« buried treasure | Main | seeing stars »

coco's apartment

August 3, 2007

So after my two month 'sabbatical' to write my novel, normal freelance service has resumed. Last week I took the TGV up to Paris to interview a Chanel perfumer. The interview, to my delight, took place in Mlle Chanel's apartment on the Rue Cambon, accessed by a sweeping staircase next to the store. The apartment felt surprisingly modern and airy and lived in - nothing gloomy about it at all - despite the fact that its owner died in the early '70s. While there, I discovered some fascinating facts about the glamorous former occupant.

Firstly, Chanel did not actually sleep there, preferring the Ritz across the road. She used the apartment during the day and for entertaining. [She would telephone ahead before leaving the Ritz, so that one of her staff could spray Chanel No 5 on the staircase prior to her arrival.] It seems that she was also very superstitious: there are lots of sculptures of animals in the apartment, all of them in pairs [apparently, she often felt very lonely]; as well as some corn sheaves, which are said to bring financial success.

My favourite discovery of all however, was that the many coromandel screens in her apartment were not just decorative in purpose: they were used to prevent her dinner guests from leaving. Once they had arrived, the screens would be closed so that they could not locate the door to exit, which strikes me as an excellent ruse. I am wondering if I can deploy a few tall plants to similar effect in my enclosed courtyard garden, though here in rural France, a more common problem is getting people to leave...

comments (2)

1. Posted by froggywoogie on August 5, 2007 3:59 PM

As a student job (oh, long time ago!) I used to deliver seafood displayed on a plate covered in ice bits to homes in a wealthy area of Paris.
I had been trapped in an apartment once, where the walls and the door of the main room were covered in large mirrors. I couldn't find the way back and I felt stupid to have to ask the owner how to get out from there.
I can hear your silent question: no it wasn't a bedroom lol

2. Posted by Lavender Sprig on August 6, 2007 11:24 AM

Glad I was never one of her dinner guests. It would have been intimidating enough without having your exit barred!

post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)