Spun gold: Chanel's fine watches and jewellery temple redefines luxury on New Bond Street
Some six years in the planning, and overseen down to the placement of the last sheath of wheat by Peter Marino himself, the complete transformation sees the former boutique’s one floor of retail space bolstered to three, and lavished from floor-to-ceiling with a golden gleam.
This gilt jewellery box is the antithesis of the homogenised luxury chain store, with their stark display cabinets and stamped furnishings, replicated from Shanghai to Sydney. This lavish enclave feels more like a resplendent private residence made up of elegant drawing rooms than a commercial retail space. And in spite of the building’s slim width, Marino has smartly done away with the first floor altogether so that the ground floor opens up with double ceilings from which two magnificent Goossens ‘Couronne’ chandeliers hang.
This townhouse’s grand environs – from its tufted ‘tweed’ carpets to its smooth suede walls – are so sumptuous that even the megawatt jewellery on show seems perfectly at home dotted between the address’ contemporary artworks, gilt 18th century Venetian mirrors, 19th century Chinese rugs and antique Louis XV chairs.
Nodding to Mademoiselle Chanel’s Rue Cambon apartment, a crystal ball sits atop the founder’s preferred scroll-armed coffee table, while Coromandel screens from the Qing Dynasty (dating back to 1671) have been fixed to the ground floor’s walls, just as they are appointed in Coco Chanel’s private residence.
But antiques aside, the boutique’s design centrepiece is Goossens' ‘bijoux espace’ rock crystal and bronze staircase. The balustrade, which joins the two main salons, was made entirely by hand, and encircles the store’s bespoke glass lift. The house’s relationship with Goossens’ studio dates back to founder Robert Goossen’s work with Coco Chanel, while the business itself was acquired by Chanel in 2005.
At the crown of the building, and sporting sweeping views over Bond Street lies the house’s VIP salon, complete with a working bio fuel limestone fireplace and Goossens’ ‘Vendôme’ chandelier. This one may only be viewed by a select few sets of eyes, but then this store is all about layers of discovery: a place where antiquity meets audacity, and haute meets heritage.
With so much of London’s fine jewellery district currently under construction (De Grisogono is working with David Collins Studio and Van Cleef & Arpels with Jouin Manku), what is crystal clear is that Chanel has set the design bar in solid gold here.