Chanel failing to channel / by Mark Izatt

The other Saturday, with a rare clear schedule, I came across a full page advert for "Mademoiselle Prive" and decided to head on over to the Saatchi Gallery after brunch.   A few months ago I had visited another brand experience hosted by Patek Philippe which I reviewed here.     I was intrigued to see how another luxury traveler would use the space and, despite less interest in the offering, I parked my prejudices and joined the line on the Kings Road.

It was a long line.

Chanel reps walked up and down the line to encourage everyone to download the special Visitor's App.   I had already done this.  Which is why I wasn't concerned about the length of line.  The App told me it would be 10 minutes.

It was an hour.    The App lied.   (When I check now a week and a bit on it's showing 40 minutes so I hope they solved the bug and that 40 minutes doesn't translate into 4 hours).

Cutting to the chase did the experience deliver on the promise of "A journey through the origins of Chanel's creations capturing the charismatic personality and irreverent spirit of Mademoiselle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld." ?    

In a word "no".

I felt so underwhelmed by the experience that midway through I reached out to someone who has a better feel for fashion and who had attended a few days previous.  Not known to mince her words she came back with "Crap".  

Rather than a celebration it was a spartan curation.   Once you worked your way through the stylized blindingly white cartoon creations (picture above) you were plunged into a sequence of rooms that seemed to get darker and darker.   The darkness was exacerbated by your pupils constantly adjusting between using the smartphone app, for "additional content" which never seemed to appear at the right moment and then trying to pick your way through a maze of pitch black exhibits.

Even the gowns on higher floors were dimly lit with minimal information or context.

The only moment of redemption was the indoor garden / maze representation and even then I'm clutching at straws....or should that be privet ?

The whole experience lacked a bit of magic and left me disappointed that the opportunity had been squandered.    At what point did this look like a powerful representation of the brand ?  

I left having learnt nothing new about Chanel and wondering what she would have thought.  If "Luxury is the absence of vulgarity" then my maxim would have to be "Experience is the presence of richness."