Tuesday, May 14, 2013

N 5 Culture Chanel

The N5 Culture Chanel exhibit is only on till 5 June at Palais de Tokyo
The exhibit focuses on the evolution of perfume Chanel N5.
Plexiglas display cases/vitrines reflect perfectly the square austerity of the bottle's shape. An explanatory booklet is given out along with a free audio tape (only if you have your carte d'identite with you). I did not, so was left to make my own assumptions...
From the get go Chanel's photos are so graphically designed.
Her use of her own dark hair, sharp distinctive features and slim body
Are the perfect packaging for her house of Chanel.
Such powerful personal imagery. Was there ever another icon like her?
Chanel's art collection and refined taste seems to mirror her image always.
A severity plus grace.
And lyrical lines.
Yet when drawing her it's hard not to notice she rarely if ever smiles. Not a hint of warmth or empathy, but always line and grace are apparent...
I read Hal Vaughan's Sleeping With The Enemy when it first came out - a detailed, historic, somewhat dry account of Chanel during the war years. Nothing like the expose on YSL and Lagerfeld in Alice Drake's The Beautiful Fall, one of my all time favorite books on Paris couture.
Still the pervasive narcissism of her portraits does give one pause...

And make one wonder about the real life of the original mysterious French woman.  Perhaps I should go back with my carte d'identite/passport and find out what the Chanel exhibit is really about non?
Or you can go and report back.


  1. One thing I really admire is your courage at taking photos..When a friend lived across the street we discovered we both liked taking photos.. too late in our friendship malheureusement as it only gave us a few occasions for outings to shoot..(She has moved..)..but I found I was so much braver to stop on a road..get out of a car..approach a farm..or a field..etc..with someone..I never do alone..
    You are so good at this!

    Do you find Coco looks like Catherine Deneuve IN the mirror?

    I know they look nothing alike but that mirror shot?

    Love your silhouettes..gosh you're good!

  2. Anonymous8:22 AM

    Chanel - the Queen of mystery
    And forgiven everything for beauty's sake..


  3. You Chanel sketches reflect an immediacy missing from the photos!
    I like best the last photograph of her, an interesting study in attitude.

    1. You have to wonder if she sketched out her photo sittings...shadow here, light here...
      Could be

  4. Carol, please do return to the Chanel exhibit with that required card. Perhaps Coco did not like the looks of her teeth or perhaps she just preferred to keep that composed appearance as her signature.

    Your prior post about going to the cinema was very informative...what a great opportunity to see lots of movies. I also used to see many French films with the idea of improving my understanding of the beautiful language. My memory might be faulty, but I also think I saw Chariots of Fire in Cannes with French dubbed in and no English subtitles. Long ago, and not at the actual festival!


    1. There is just one photo of her looking at one of her men where she looks human, emotive, not an icon...

  5. Lovely post Carol. You do get to see the best exhibits in Paris! (How very Parisian of you!) I am a big fan of Coco Chanel's, even though I am certain it would have been difficult to be her friend (come to think of it, after reading several Chanel biographies, I don't know if she had actual friends, especially female ones...) I mostly admire her self-confidence (yes, I see narcissism in there as well,) and the way she played her cards so well in a society that was still men-oriented. Nothing cheers me up these days like a Chanel quote about men and women relationships. "Mademoiselle" is always "on the dot!" :-) I showcase a couple of my blog's homepage... Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  6. François11:04 AM

    About his love affair with a german officer, i want just say :
    all the german was not nazi
    all the nazi was not german

    A best seller novel was write about this kind of relation ; le silence de la mer
    You can find this story in a post war movie and a recent very fine TV movie.

    1. I'd love to see that movie Francois

  7. Anonymous11:51 AM

    One of my dearest friends is the playwright, Bill Luce, who wrote the 'Belle of Amherst' and 'Barrymore' among many other plays. He is now putting the finishing touches on a rewrite of 'Coco', a one woman play about Miss Chanel. It is going to be produced in Paris and Leslie caron wants to play the role. Please be on the lookout for it.

  8. Such a knack for making the most of what she had! YEs, go back with your carte!

  9. Love love love!! The sketch is beautiful and I'm jealous.. I so would like to go!

    Have enjoyed all the different films/books that have come out recently!

  10. Interesting observations about the person behind the persona, Carol. May be worth a return visit to learn more... x Katie

  11. Patricia2:38 PM

    Please write a book! We love your witty comments and hidden peeps of Paris. Illustrate it with your whimsical paintings. Please! And please include a whole chapter (if not more) on ONLY FABULOUS DESSERTS.

    1. I've been trying to write a book for 3-4 years at least. Not as easy as blogging. Nothing like blogging in fact and no idea how to translate the immediacy of one form into the other ;(
      I haven't given up yet.
      It's why I'm here
      Got any ideas?

  12. Anonymous3:58 PM

    Loved everything today.Look for Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's.....can't wait to see it...

  13. Anonymous11:10 PM

    Love your Chanel Post Carol!
    Merci beaucoup!
    Chef Ann

  14. Thank you so much for the recommendation Carol! I'll be in Paris a few times this year and will definitely stop by!

    Chic 'n Cheap Living

  15. I love the photos of her.
    The plexi-glass display cases, not so much :)

  16. Anonymous12:05 AM

    I love the Chanel piece. "The persuasive narcissism of her portraits.." seems that she was always creating a live set, a painting. I wonder if we will ever know who she truly was. But I agree, an icon unmatched.


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