By Joelle Diderich
with contributions from Mimosa Spencer
 on February 12, 2018
Chanel show set at the Grand Palais

PARISChanel said Monday it has signed on as the exclusive private sponsor of the renovation of the Grand Palais with plans to pledge 25 million euros toward the works, which are due to be completed in time for the Summer Olympics in Paris in 2024.

As part of the agreement, the French fashion house wants to retain the exclusive right to use the nave of the glass-and-steel structure for its fashion shows, said Bruno Pavlovsky, president of fashion at Chanel. He also confirmed the company will stage its next cruise show at the venue.

“This represents for us the guarantee that we will continue to be able to benefit from this exceptional location. In addition, the entrance to the nave will be christened after Gabrielle Chanel,” Pavlovsky told WWD. “This allows us to write the history of Chanel in Paris in a very visual way.”

Built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900, the Grand Palais has been the stage of Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld’s fashion shows since 2005, with props including a giant statue of a jacket, a fake iceberg and a reproduction of the Eiffel Tower. With sets worthy of a film production, Lagerfeld also has transformed the soaring space into a crumbling theater, an airport terminal, a supermarket and a rocket launch pad, complete with a simulated takeoff.

The set for Chanel’s fall 2017 show.

The set for Chanel’s fall 2017 show.  Courtesy/Olivier Saillant

He has also used the smaller southeast gallery of the building for shows, such as the cruise 2018 show, and exhibitions, like the “Little Black Jacket” photo display in 2012.

French Culture Minister Françoise Nyssen and Sylvie Hubac, president of the Réunion des musées nationaux-Grand Palais, held a press conference on Monday to detail plans for the 466-million-euro renovation, for which the French government is putting up the bulk of financing.

French architecture studio LAN, in charge of the project, plans to restore the building to its original splendor, create a connecting area between all exhibitions and increase the space available for public use in order to strengthen the location’s appeal as a major events venue and a key tourist destination.

“The new Grand Palais must embody the France of the 21st century,” said Nyssen.

“These investments will enable it to attract a larger and more diverse public, to welcome them under better conditions, with new services and with new media tools, new spaces for visiting and meeting. Today we attract three million visitors per year; we hope for four million tomorrow,” she added.

The Grand Palais hosts some 40 events a year, including the FIAC art fair and the Saut Hermès equestrian competition, and will be the venue for tae kwon do and fencing competitions during the Olympic Games. The renovation will increase surfaces available for rent by 24 percent.

The partnership is one of several major investments by Chanel in Paris, and its largest single sponsorship deal to date.

“This is an enormous project which is going to give the Grand Palais — one of the most fantastic places in Paris from the point of view of its architecture and location — an absolutely exceptional dimension at the center of art and events, and that’s why it’s important to be able to be a part of that,” said Pavlovsky.

In addition, the house will devote just under 5 million euros for the creation of permanent exhibition spaces at the Palais Galliera, the city’s fashion museum, which are due to be unveiled in 2019. The rooms will be named after the house’s founder, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel.

Chanel also plans to build a new site in the north of Paris, designed by award-winning architect Rudy Ricciotti, to house its specialty ateliers. Expected to be completed in 2020, it will be home to creative and production workshops.

Pavlovsky said the initiatives reflect the company’s commitment to creation in Paris. “It means being consistent and coherent, and it allows us to project the image of the brand into the future,” he said.

The nave of the Grand Palais, which already underwent an 11-year renovation prior to its reopening in 2005, will be closed from December 2020 until the spring of 2023 as part of the new round of works. Other parts of the building will only reopen in June 2024.

Pavlovsky said Chanel would have to find a new venue for around 10 shows, starting with its haute couture presentation in January 2021 and ending with the March ready-to-wear or July haute couture show in 2023.

Hubac said officials at the Grand Palais would assist Chanel and other brands, which show in the southeast gallery and the Salon d’honneur, with finding alternative venues.

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