As the capital of one of Asia’s most affluent consumer markets, Seoul is an obligatory port of call for the planet’s leading luxury brands. Sales of high-end goods have reached an annual multi-billion level in the city alone, and it’s predicted to grow even further in the next few years. It’s on leafy Apgujeong-ro, South Korea‘s equivalent of Rodeo Drive, where most of the coveted brands converge, and Chanel is no exception. The iconic French fashion house has been present in the city with a number of shop-in-shops at department stores, but so far lacked a standalone store of its own. Well, those days are gone. With much fanfare, Chanel has revealed a prestigious new flagship on this coveted street, set across seven floors of a purpose-built structure.
Entirely designed by lauded New York City-based architect Peter Marino, the monolithic structure has an all-black façade composed of lava stone and black glass, and this is briefly extended indoors, before being transformed into lighter stone and a matching palette of materials. The store is quite large, measuring 1,830 sqm. (19,698 sq.ft.) in total, and similar to all other Chanel boutiques, it takes cues from Coco Chanel‘s lavish private apartment on rue Cambon in Paris. And yet, it’s all interpreted in such a way that the look and atmosphere are both typically Chanel and unique to the premises.
To heighten the sense of exclusivity and add a personalized note, the various settings are interspersed with a series of striking contemporary art works, including four commissioned pieces. Upon entering the ground floor, shoppers find the brand’s seasonal bags and small leather goods, along with watches, high and fine jewellery creations in glass cabinets. The ground floor space is adorned by two commissioned art works: Pablo Reinoso‘s fan-motored fabric pillos, and mounted gold pearl beads on wood by Paola Pivi. An adjacent intimate salon features Coromandel screens — a nod to those in Coco Chanel‘s apartment — allowing shoppers to enjoy some privacy while trying on their favourite pieces.
Going one floor up, by way of a staircase of polished white stone, more accessories and bags can be found, alongside a dedicated shoe salon. Here, the soaring ceiling height and abounding spaciousness are amplified by the imposing site-specific work — a wall of compression molded records — by the German artist Gregor Hildebrandt that spans this floor and the one above. A commissioned portrait of Miss Chanel, by the same artist, looks over the scene. Featured along the stair is Korean artist Lee Bul’s work, an untitled piece from 2008 composed of wood, mirror, LED, polyurethane and acrylic paint.
The third floor is exclusively dedicated to ready-to-wear, and each setting is furnished with custom sofas and unique antique pieces. Artworks throughout the third floor are expressed by an extensive range of materials and textures. On the floors, bespoke carpets cast in natural materials and neutral tones add warmth to the space. Mind you, even the dressing rooms are adorned with art works. The private reception rooms on the top floor feature sculpted bronze boxes by Peter Marino himself, along with a bronze sculpture by Andrew Lord and a linear painting by American artist Ned Vena.
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