CHICAGO — Chanel has a more spacious, more modern new home in the Windy (and right now, frigid) City.
Opening on Wednesday — as the city sees subzero temperatures from the polar vortex gripping the Midwest and East Coast — the 10,000-square-foot boutique at 65 East Oak Street was designed by architect and longtime Chanel collaborator Peter Marino. Spanning two floors, the store offers about 2,800 more square feet than the brand’s previous location at the Drake Hotel on Michigan Avenue.
“As we continue to focus on elevating brand image and enriching our client’s relationship with the house, we are consistently investing in our fleet of boutiques to ensure they reflect the exceptional quality and creativity of the House of Chanel, and the experience that meets the needs and desires of our clients,” said John Galantic, president and chief operating officer of Chanel Inc.
“With the size of our location at the Drake Hotel, as well as the increasing importance of the Chicago market, we were looking for a larger space that would allow us to showcase the universe of our house in a more expansive space,” Galantic said. “Our location on Oak Street provided us with a truly unique opportunity to work with Peter Marino to design an exceptional building from top to bottom — creating a holistic and impactful expression of Chanel for our clients.”
The store marks the first Chanel boutique in Chicago where Marino designed the entire project — from the black granite and white stone exterior to every detail of the interior, including the artwork, carpets and upholstery. Chanel had been located at the Drake Hotel, considered a historic landmark, since 1997.
“There was a Miesian simplicity to the new black-and-white design,” said Marino, in reference to the store façade, and referring to architect Mies van der Rohe, considered a pioneer of modernism.
Other sources of inspiration for the store, where Chanel’s neighbors on Oak Street include Van Cleef & Arpels, Tom Ford, Carolina Herrera and Dolce & Gabbana, were drawn from elements of Gabrielle Chanel’s Parisian apartment on 31 Rue Cambon and from Chicago architecture.
“While each boutique shares a common aesthetic vocabulary that is rooted in the codes of the house, Peter Marino creates each space to reflect its own unique design and story that connects to the location,” Galantic said. “With a global client base, many who shop in our boutiques and multibrand locations throughout the U.S. and the world, it’s essential that each location reflects a differentiated point of view, both through the product offering and design, so that we can continue to surprise and delight our clients.”
Upon entering the store, the collection begins to unfold on the light-filled ground floor. At the front, two beret-sporting mannequins were wearing white and blue pieces from the spring Act 1 collection, accessorized with jewelry, handbags and sneakers.
Toward the left of the entrance, watches are displayed next to fine jewelry in sleek glass cases. Collections of handbags are artfully displayed on the wall.
“The boutique is designed so that clients can more freely interact with the collections. On the ground floor, fine jewelry and watches are merchandised with handbags so that the customer can explore multiple product categories at once,” Galantic said.
Chanel’s signature colors — shades of black, gold, white and beige — can be found throughout the interior space. Walls feature glossy and matte finishes in various textures and shades and floors are beige and black marble. Tweed-inspired upholstered chairs and sofas and black and white rugs contrast with the light-colored floors.
The main floor includes two areas devoted to handbags and sections for costume jewelry, scarves, eyewear, cosmetics and fragrance.
The boutique features an extensive collection of art specifically selected by Marino for the location. The assortment includes works by contemporary British artist Idris Khan, abstract painter Agnes Martin, Cameroon-born artist Pascale Marthine Tayou and more.
Two pieces of art were commissioned exclusively for the Oak Street store. The first, displayed at the base of the stairwell, is a portrait of Coco Chanel by Berlin-based contemporary artist Gregor Hildebrandt. Engraved on black granite, the work is inspired by a famous photograph of the designer wearing multiple strands of white pearls.
The second piece, featuring thousands of transparent film rectangles, is by Wang Ningde and located in the elevator.
A skylight provides a loftlike feeling and illuminates the white staircase, constructed from slabs of white sivec marble and accented with textured brass handrails.
On the second floor, there are two sections of ready-to-wear with expansive seating areas and a shoe salon.
In addition to spring Act 1, the rtw assortment includes the cruise collection and a small assortment of fall rtw.
In one room, a giant floor-to-ceiling mirrored screen offers an update on the lacquered Chinese Coromandel screens in Chanel’s Rue Cambon apartment. An acrylic and glass cocktail table, from an original piece by painter Arman, depicts several bottles of spilled Chanel nail polish beneath the surface and splashes of red, beige and white paint are splattered across the top.
Three private fitting rooms on the second floor include custom panels where shoppers can control climate, adjust the lighting to various times of day, from day to evening, and play their own music.
Chanel has a long history in Chicago; prior to the Drake Hotel, it was located at 940 North Michigan Avenue.
“One of the brand’s very first boutiques in the United States was built in Chicago in 1987, and we value the city’s loyal and sizable local client base,” Galantic said. “Through the creation of our beautiful new boutique on Oak Street, we hope to engage even further with the local clientele, servicing both our existing and future clients in a residential space that reflects the creativity and craftsmanship of the House of Chanel.”