The voyeurism that pertains to fashion's most famous boltholes is legendary. There's Christian Dior's idyllic summer house in Normandy, Yves Saint Laurent's Moroccan Jardin Majorelle paradise, the glitzy Versace mansion in Miami, Mr Valentino's Château de Wideville, and perhaps the most fabled, Mademoiselle Chanel's apartment in Paris.
This private residence is the subject of a series of photographs by artist and filmmaker Sam Taylor-Johnson, for a new Chanel exhibition titled 'Second Floor'. The 34 images capture the rich details of the style doyenne's lavish, 4-room apartment at 31 Rue Cambon, and are on show at London's Saatchi Gallery from Friday.
'Shooting at Coco Chanel's apartment was an unexpectedly absorbing experience,' says Taylor-Johnson, who admits that she was quite daunted by the legacy at first. 'The essence of Chanel is firmly rooted there in all of her possessions and I truly believe that her spirit and soul still inhabits the second floor.'
Transporting visitors deep inside Gabrielle Chanel's world, the apartment, which has remained untouched since her death in 1971, is part time capsule, part shrine to the design legend's ethos of modern living. 'It felt like she had meticulously chosen every object,' explains the Turner Prize nominee.
Located above the house's Paris haute couture salon and buffered by the petite mains couture atelier on the building's fourth floor, the second floor apartment is reached by that iconic spiral staircase. The faceted, mirrored masterpiece was in fact designed by Chanel to connect all levels of 31 Rue Cambon, while allowing her a vantage view of all floors from one spot - including her in-house salon presentations.
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