Last Thursday night, the doors of the Chanel boutique at 209 Collins Street closed it doors for the last time. In an extravagant move even for the revered French design house, the next morning at 10am, they cut the black ribbon – wrapped around the building like a present – on their opulent new store, five times the size, on Flinders Lane.
With nearly 700 square metres dedicated to retail space alone, and set over two levels that was the previously the rather dilapidated Melbourne headquarters of the Church for Scientology, extensive alternations have been made to the building’s interior to create a space that is an elegant and sophisticated expose of the luxury brand.
Undertaken by New York based architect Peter Marino, the refurbishment showcases a ground floor not unlike designer boutiques across the globe, with glass cabinets filled with fine jewellery, wallets, sunglasses, shoes and signature bags, including a limited ‘Boy Chanel’ edition, made with python skin, and exclusively for the new Melbourne store (which they expected, on the morning of opening to public, would be sold out before the day’s end).
But it’s the second floor that really impresses, housing ready-to-wear collections by Karl Largerfeld in the customary Chanel palette of black, white, beige and gold. Built to emulate Mademoiselle Chanel’s tiny Parisian apartment on 31 rue Cambon, a collection of chic pieces hang around the periphery of a living room-like space, fit with sofas, coffee tables and a large screen showcasing videos of the latest runway collections mounted into a huge mirror that was cut and shipped in one piece from Europe. And as a patron of the arts, Chanel’s interior furnishings include antique lamps by Goossens and tables by Laurence Montano and Inrid Donat.
This floor also houses three intimate dressing rooms fit with tweed sofas for ‘friends, lovers or mothers’ to linger, one of which closes off as a VIP room for private shopping by exclusive customers.
Above the retail floors are two more levels that make up the Chanel offices, the Chanel ‘school’, where retail staff are trained and Chanel cosmetics are applied before a shift, and a rooftop garden for special events.
It’s a slick operation at the new Chanel flagship, and perhaps one that speaks of an international fashion revival in Melbourne. Against popular belief, Sydney isn’t the only place Australian customers desire luxury designer goods.
140 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
(03) 9655 2200
Mon to Thurs 10am-6pm
Sat & Sun 10am-6pm