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La Chanelphile

August 10, 2012

Flash Back Friday: Aubazine Abbey

aubazine abbey

After her mother’s death when she was eleven, Coco Chanel’s father dropped she and her two sisters off at the orphanage at the abbey at Aubazine in Corrèze, France. Chanel spent six years at the orphanage where leading a simple life where the future designer learned to sew. Much of Coco Chanel’s design lexicon is rooted in her time at the orphanage at Aubazine. From the double-C perhaps inspired by the design on the glass windows, the patterns she saw in the stone floors, the monastic color palette of black and white and the importance Chanel placed on fragrance, much of what we love about Coco Chanel’s brand and designs harken back to her sad days at Aubazine.

aubazine abbey

Since Coco Chanel spent many formative years there I thought it would be great to highlight it in a Flash Back Friday post and I hope one day to visit Aubazine Abbey myself. For a more in-depth look at the influence of Aubazine on Coco Chanel read Justin Picardie’s Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life.

aubazine abbey

aubazine abbey

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Filed under: Chanel,Coco Chanel — Tags: , , — La Chanelphile @ 4:12 am

July 27, 2012

Flash Back Friday: My New Vintage Chanel Finds

vintage chanel mini bag and bow pin

Earlier this week I met with a vintage Chanel dealer that happens to live just a few towns over – many thanks to Liz Baca of The Goods! for the referral! I took many photos of the products she has for sale and I’ll be doing a full post next week but for now I just wanted to give you a sneak peek of some of her goodness.

I got a great deal on two of my favorite pieces that I saw there – a mini vintage Chanel bow pin and a mini vintage Chanel bag. You may not be able to see the scale from the photos but the pin is about the width of a US quarter and the bag is just wide enough to hold my iPhone. They are so adorable! I’ve wanted a mini bag to add to my collection and now I have one! I also won’t be so afraid to use the bag because it’s already gently used :)

You can find more on Fabi*s Finds ebay store or contact Fabienne directly at Fabicray@aol.com or FabiCraycraft@gmail.com. You can follow Fabienne on Twitter @FrenchFabi.

vintage chanel bow pin

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Filed under: Chanel,Vintage Chanel — Tags: , — La Chanelphile @ 10:33 am

July 13, 2012

Flash Back Friday: Coco Chanel’s Scottish Getaway Gets a Facelift

coco chanel duke of westminster

In 1923 Coco Chanel met the Duke of Westminster – at the time the wealthiest man in Britain – and the two began a love affair that lasted for most of the remainder of the 1920s. Coco Chanel took time between fittings and collections to visit her lover at the Duke’s vast array of estates. In 1926, he purchased Rosehall Mansion and he let Coco Chanel decorate it to her taste. Two years later, as the relationship was cooling the Duke of Westminster sold Rosehall and since then, has had successive owners and has fallen into disuse and disrepair over the last sixty years. Now, architect firm Bell Ingram has been hired to resuscitate Rosehall’s prior grandeur and transform it into a boutique hotel.

coco chanel rosehall scotland

The director of the project, Iain Cram said his challenge was to meet the requirements of the Highland Council while still trying to “preserve and reinstate the Chanel influence.” Because Rosehall is the only property outside continental Europe with interiors designed by Coco Chanel (and reportedly the home of Scotland’s first bidet), Rosehall is a treasure in Coco Chanel history. Though Rosehall has seen better days, a template of sorts remains in the way of Coco Chanel’s designs including remnants of deep beige wallpaper, hand-painted French wallpaper and even a green color scheme used for the cloakroom – all of these remaining details will help guide the design process.

coco chanel rosehall scotland

Cram stated:

However while it will be impossible to save all the features, we have a real chance to restore this cultural gem to something like its former glory. Our aim is to work very closely with planners to try to utilise every possible remaining feature of the building to ensure its conservation, as well as preserving the influence of Chanel as far as possible…We don’t know what the final interior design will look like, but we do know that it will have a strong nod to the 1920’s era and the time when Coco Chanel lived there.

coco chanel rosehall scotland

I’m glad that Rosehall will be revived to its former glory and I hope the designers do stay true to Coco Chanel’s aesthetic. One of my dreams is to put together a “Coco Chanel” tour and visit or stay in the places she stayed. I hope one day that includes Rosehall Mansion.

coco chanel rosehall scotland

coco chanel rosehall scotland

coco chanel rosehall scotland

To see more wonderful photos of what remains of Rosheall mansion, please visit this Rosehall House – Coco Chanel Interiors Photo Stream by Dazzababes. All photos of Rosehall in this post are from this photo stream.

Source: Deadline News
Source: Telegraph

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Filed under: Coco Chanel — Tags: , — La Chanelphile @ 4:12 am

June 29, 2012

Flash Back Friday: The Legend of the Chanel Logo’s Double C

catherine de medici hair pin chanel

Catherine de Medici's Hairpin with Interlocking Cs found in 2012

Chanel’s iconic interlocking Cs logo is one of the most widely-recognized logos in the world. However, much like Coco Chanel’s life story, much of the origin of the interlocking Cs is shrouded in mystery. A few weeks ago a hairpin belonging to Catherine de Medici, Queen of France in the 16th century, was found at Fontainebleau Palace, a royal residence outside of Paris.  A momentous find, the hairpin was the first possession of the Renaissance queen found in modern history.  But what makes this find most curious of all is the very familiar looking interlocking Cs.

To fully understand the roots of the interlocking Cs we must take a look into the history of France as well as the formative years of Coco Chanel’s life.

queen claude of france catherine de medici coco chanel

The "C" Ladies: Queen Claude of France, Catherine de Medici and Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel

Queen Claude of France

Queen Claude of France is the first person recognized to use the interlocking Cs as her insignia.  The interlocking Cs are found at the Château Royal de Blois, where “the symbol was carved in white in the apartments of France’s Queen Claude, who found in the inital “C” an inspiring personal motto: candidior candidis – the fairest of the fair.”  (The Secret of Chanel Nº5, Tilar J. Mazzeo, p.107)  We get a clearer picture of Queen Claude’s personal apartments  in Catherine de Medici, where the authors state: “the apartments of Queen Claude of France…in which may still be seen, delicately carved, the double C accompanied by figures, purely white, of swans and lilies signifying / candidior candidis / – more white than the whitest – the motto of the queen whose name began, like that of Catherine [de Medici] with a C…” (Catherine ‘de Medici, Honoré de Balzac and Katharine Prescott Wormeley, p.54)

 Catherine de Medici

Queen Claude of France was Catherine de Medici’s mother-in-law – Catherine de Medici joined the French royals upon her marriage to Claude’s second son Henri II.  Having an initial C, like Queen Claude before her, Catherine de Medici adopted the symbol as her own.

Royal insignia of the initials of Henri II and Catherine de Medici can be found at Chenonceau

Royal insignia of the initials of Henri II and Catherine de Medici can be found at Chenonceau. Photo from Historical-Fiction.com

It seems Catherine de Medici and Coco Chanel shared not only the “C” initial but also a penchant for jewels.  Queen Catherine loved lavish jewels but most of her collection was sold, lost or stolen over hundreds of years.  Similarly, Mademoiselle Chanel loved jewelry – both real and fake – and like Queen Catherine, many of her signature pieces were stolen in the hours shortly after her death.  To find a piece of Catherine de Medici’s jewelry now is a significant find, and may help unlock some of the mysteries of the Chanel logo.

As a side note, this is not the only similarity between Catherine de Medici and Coco Chanel – both women loved fragrance as well.  In fact, one of the many rumors surrounding the creation of Chanel Nº5 is that the formula is derived from “the lost ‘miraculous perfume’ of the Medici queens, an elixir said to preserve aging beauties from the ravages of time.”  (The Secret of Chanel Nº5, Tilar J. Mazzeo, p.31)

Château Crémat

Stained Glass window at Chateau de Cremat Chanel Logo

Stained Glass window at Chateau de Cremat, Image from TwentyFourSevenInFrance.com

Another legend says that Coco Chanel saw the interlocking Cs at Château Crémat, a château in Nice that Irène Bretz, and American heiress purchased.  Coco Chanel was friends with Ms. Bretz and attended parties she hosted at Château Crémat and “one summer night Coco Chanel looked up at a vaulted arch at one of  Irène’s famous parties and found inspiration in a Renaissance medallion: two interlocking Cs.” (The Secret of Chanel Nº5, Tilar J. Mazzeo, p.107)

Doorknob from Chateau de Cremat in Nice Chanel Logo

Doorknob from Chateau de Cremat in Nice, Image from DecadesInc.blogspot.com

Chapel at Aubazine

The explanation that Chanel (the modern company) and biographer Justine Picardie subscribe to is that the answer can be found at the Chapel of Aubazine, a Cistercian monastery and abbey that also housed an orphanage where Chanel spent the latter half of her childhood.

chapel aubazine stained glass window coco chanel

Windows from the chapel of Aubazine, Photo from Culture.Chanel.com

Picardie explains:

A few shafts of light pierce the shadows through the opaque grey and pearl-white windows; there is no figurative stained glass in this Cistercian abbey, but the panes form geometric patterns, knots and loops that look eerily like the double C of Chanel’s logo.

(Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life, Justine Picardie, p. 28).

Capel & Chanel

Justine Picardie also alludes to another meaning behind the double C – Boy Capel and Coco Chanel.  Boy Capel was the love of Coco Chanel’s life and Chanel as we know it today may not even exist without Boy Capel.  In addition to being her lover, Boy Capel was in some ways a founding business partner of Chanel.  He funded her business and her first boutiques and Coco Chanel eventually paid him back his investment.

Coco Chanel and Boy Capel

Coco Chanel and Boy Capel, Image scanned from Coco Chanel by Justine Picardie, p.60

After Boy Capel’s untimely death, interlocking the Cs of Capel and Chanel was a way of keeping them together.  Picardie states:

There was no business contract to bind them together, just as there was no marriage certificate, but it nonetheless joined them, as the double C logo seems to suggest; Chanel and Capel; overlapping, but also facing away from each other.

(Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life, Justine Picardie, p. 74-5).

The Double C Lives On

We will never know where Coco Chanel found inspiration for the Double C Chanel logo.  It could have been from long lost loves, royal families, her sad childhood, or a combination of them.   What we do know is that the symbol is as mysterious as the woman who made it infamous.

chanel logo

Sources:
Washington Post
Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life by Justine Picardie
The Secret of Chanel Nº5, Tilar J. Mazzeo (review coming soon!)
Culture Chanel
http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/hautehouse_row/159608795.html
http://historical-fiction.com/?p=1629
http://decadesinc.blogspot.com/2010/10/nothing-better.html
http://twentyfourseveninfrance.com/tag/fashion/

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Filed under: Chanel,Chanel Culture,Coco Chanel — Tags: , , , — La Chanelphile @ 12:39 pm

June 15, 2012

Flash Back Friday: Chanel Fashion Show Video Medley

I watch this video every so often – I love that it’s a medley of different Chanel fashion shows ranging from the 1930s to 1983. One of my favorite things about this video is seeing Coco Chanel in action. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

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Filed under: Chanel,Chanel Culture,Coco Chanel,Vintage Chanel — Tags: , , , — La Chanelphile @ 5:32 am

June 1, 2012

Flash Back Friday: Vintage Chanel at A Second Chance Designer Resale Boutique

vintage chanel a second chance

While I was in New York I had the chance to visit A Second Chance – a designer resale boutique that has an extensive collection of vintage Chanel jewlery, handbags, shoes and clothing. There are two locations, one in Soho and one on the Upper East Side and both are crammed with designer products. I could spend hours in each shop just discovering all the pieces – one item is better than the next.

vintage chanel a second chance

The Soho shop has a nice selection of Chanel, but if you want to see the real deal collection then head up to the Upper East Side location. I just stared at the jewelry in the cases and pictured myself wearing all of it – at once! And if you want a 2.55 bag you can definitely get one here – they are not cheap, but they cost a lot less than purchasing a new one. While I was there I was shopping alongside Catherine Zeta Jones who was wearing Chanel shoes that she had purchased on a previous visit to A Second Chance.

I could go on an on about how amazing the selection at A Second Chance is (and I almost don’t want to share for purely selfish reasons!) but I’ll let the pictures do the talking. I only took photos of a fraction of what they have – click on the first image to see all of the images larger.

Upper East Side
1109 Lexington Avenue 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10075
(212) 744-6041

Soho
155 Prince Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 673-6155

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Filed under: Vintage Chanel — Tags: , , , — La Chanelphile @ 4:47 am

May 18, 2012

Flash Back Friday: Vintage Chanel Featured in Elle US Editorial

elle us october 2011 editorial vintage chanel

In October 2011, the U.S. edition of Elle Magazine published a fashion editorial featuring Victoria’s Secret babes Adriana Lima, Doutzen Kroes, Miranda Kerr, and Chanel Iman. Though shot last year, the shoot featured mouth-watering vintage Chanel accessories – some of it dating back to the 1960s (those gorgeous giant dangling 5 hoop earrings!!). The flashy editorial was styled by Joe Zee and photographed by Alexei Hay. Click on the first image to see all of the images larger in a slideshow. Enjoy and have a nice weekend!

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Filed under: Chanel,Vintage Chanel — Tags: , — La Chanelphile @ 4:49 am