CHA-NEL is in the house.
The luxury brand and its split logo have taken over Barneys‘ Madison Avenue flagship, where the Chanel ephemeral boutique will be in residence on the sixth floor through April 21. Featuring ready-to-wear, handbags and costume jewelry, the boutique marks the first time Barneys’ clients will be able to shop those categories, designed especially for the retailer by Chanel.
“We collaborated in fall 2016 with Chanel and created a special shoe-focused window at the downtown store with an installation inside the store,” said Jennifer Sunwoo, Barneys’ chief merchant. “It was an extremely creative, one-of-a-kind project. We’ve been looking to collaborate together on a larger scale. We’re in talks to incorporate all classifications, including rtw, accessories, handbags, etc. That’s based on the success and synergy of the teams when we do collaborations. We now sell women’s shoes and beauty at the uptown store.
“We thought, what else can we do to top this experience for the customer?” Sunwoo said. “Maybe the introduction of more categories. We have a very strong Chanel following. It’s a very unique experience. We’ll have Chanel customers from other retailers coming to Barneys to check it out.
“We always wanted to do a partnership with Chanel and are always interested in growing other categories,” Sunwoo continued. “This is a nice way to introduce customers to the brand. We’re seeing great demand. This is a very special time to celebrate the legacy of Karl Lagerfeld. This makes this moment even more special. Our customers covet Chanel. We feel they’re buying as collectors who will truly love the items.”
The limited collection reportedly has clients already “really jumping on it,” without any promotion by the brand or retailer other than Barneys associates spreading the word to clients. “A pretty good percentage of the merchandise has been sold already,” said a source.
Sunwoo said Chanel figures as one of the largest brand takeovers at the flagship, along with Thom Browne, Rick Owens and last month’s exclusive Burberry launch.
“This is the first time we’ve created a moment on the sixth floor,” Sunwoo said. “Typically, installations have been on the fourth floor. We wanted to offer a differentiated experiential moment. We felt the sixth floor would be most conducive, based on the build-out Chanel had in mind. The physical parameters of the space were more conducive, especially based on the inspiration and the theme. Also, Barneys has never used the sixth floor before for another installation or collaboration.”
Chanel’s logo is split between two windows on either side of Barneys’ main entrance. Radiant-toned rtw from the brand’s spring collection is set against a backdrop of sand dunes in saturated red, bright yellow, emerald green and azure blue, with the letters in corresponding colors perched on the sand. A ground-floor installation opposite the main entrance has mannequins sporting the collection on black sand dunes.
A large Cha-Nel logo heralds the entrance to the ephemeral boutique on the sixth floor, where mannequins dressed in beige cabana dresses, yellow lace-embroidered tweed suits and chiffon parasol-print dresses are part of displays with sand, sun-bleached tree stumps, Plexiglass boxes and blue and beige dégradé carpets.
Chanel Inc. general manager of fashion Joyce Green said the spring collection “possesses a modern and youthful spirit that aligns with the creative values of Barneys and its clientele. With Barneys’ deep history of celebrating and pushing the boundaries of creativity in stores, we knew they would be the perfect partner to bring to life this exceptional collection in such a creative context.”
The ephemeral boutique concept offers “an alternate expression of Chanel through a unique lens that complements the client experience in our permanent boutiques,” Green said. “When selecting a location for an ephemeral boutique, be it the Paris-Dallas ephemeral boutique in Aspen or the cruise 2017-18 ephemeral boutique at Nordstrom Seattle, we seek locations that allow us to amplify the creativity of a collection and expose it to a unique clientele.”
The Barneys Chanel ephemeral boutique will be the only one in the U.S. for the spring collection; however, the brand will open freestanding ephemeral boutiques in Capri; Saint-Tropez; Courchevel in the French Alps, and Bodrum, Turkey.
Beachball-shaped handbags, $4,100 for a two-tone calfskin and metal version, and $13,000 for one made out of Plexiglass and light shiny metal; colorful visors; straw hats, and PVC logo slides, $725, are among the novelty accessories. Earrings with Chanel spelled out, $1,000; a PVC and lambskin handbag with sand in a built-in compartment and oversize pearl handle, $4,000, and wicker handbags, $8,900, are also on offer.
Sunwoo is bullish on Chanel rtw. “I feel very strongly about the soft white cardigan tipping in blue or red, and the iconic Chanel jacket. Honestly, I think all the styles will be such coveted items. The straw hats and jewelry, and some other straw handbags, are special,” she said.
There’s also a white denim and tweed jumpsuit with a white leather and gold belt, $6,900; little black tweed jacket, $4,650; oversize pink tweed jacket, $6,950, and black-and-white one-piece swimsuit, $1,050.
In terms of shoes, Chanel is sold at the Madison Avenue flagship, downtown Seventh Avenue store and Beverly Hills flagship. “It’s one of our top resources. We have an extremely robust Chanel business. I think we have a very bright future together,” Sunwoo said.
The Barneys initiative comes as Chanel is busy on numerous fronts. In the U.S., the fashion house is in the process of turning its wholesale areas in department stores into leased departments that it would control. Meanwhile, in Paris, Chanel recently opened a series of pop-ups at the new Galeries Lafayette on the Champs-Élysées inspired by its fashion show sets. It also has permanent spaces in the store for shoes and watches.