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Take A Look Inside The “Mademoiselle Prive” Exhibition In Seoul

From Gabrielle Chanel's first-ever hat boutique in Deauville to a futuristic Chanel Nº5 machine, we take you through highlights from the stunning space.
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Gabrielle Chanel used to hang a sign that said “Mademoiselle Prive” on the door of her workroom on 31 rue Cambon. That way, she – the Mademoiselle and never Madame – could work in private, uninterrupted. It was a clever “Do Not Disturb” sign for sure, but it also suggested at the intimacy and intricacies that happened behind the door when Gabrielle Chanel was left to her thoughts and scissors.

We are in Seoul for the second leg of Chanel’s “Mademoiselle Prive” exhibition, where all who enter the holo-neon entrance at the D Museum are granted privy to the gears that turned Gabrielle Chanel’s revolutionary mind.

The story begins at a monochromatic reimagining of Gabrielle Chanel’s very first boutique in Deauville in Normandy, where she started her career as a milliner with the help of her biggest love Arthur “Boy” Capel. There, you hear “Gabrielle Chanel” – voiced by actress Geraldine Chaplin – as she muses about striping down hats and piling on pearls.

The boutique then leads into a dimly-lit space, with seven sculptures representing Gabrielle Chanel’s totems and symbols of luck – all her favourite numbers, wheat, the colour red, pearls, camellias, black and white, chains and Greek statues.

We then arrive at a big white box, marked with a series of buttons that all said “5”. A deconstruction of the Chanel Nº5 waits within, told through falling petals and a bronze organ with flasks of botanical extracts that go into making the world-famous fragrance. The white continues, but this time into a long, winding corridor crafted from sheets and sheets of fabric from Chanel’s own atelier. Let’s just say that a lot of pictures are taken here.

Alas, we go up the “stitched” staircase, dotted with pencil markings, seams, pins and needles. A reproduction of Gabrielle Chanel’s “Mademoiselle Prive” door – and the exhibition’s first augmented reality experience – greets us. With a little help from modern technology, we see the door “open” and watch Gabrielle Chanel snip and sketch away.

We pass two rows of black dresses from Chanel’s haute couture archives, all lit with neon “backbones” before reaching a curtain of giant rice paper portraits, each featuring Karl Lagerfeld’s muses in re-editions of “Bijoux de Diamants”, Gabrielle Chanel’s first and only high jewellery collection from 1932.

Need to see the pieces up-close? Not a problem. Glass cases holding the re-edition collection fill the final room. A constellation necklace of monumental proportions takes centrestage, housed in a gilded birdcage. The space then splits into two: the “photo booth” room on the right, featuring blown-up polaroids of muses and friends of the house, and the film room on the left, where Chanel’s many short films run on repeat, including the new and very hilarious Visite Nocturne starring Karl Lagerfeld and Chaplin as a “resurrected” Gabrielle Chanel.

Remember: “Mademoiselle Prive” is open to all, but only until 19 July. For those who cannot make it in time, let us be your eyes as we take you through some of our favourite spots in the exhibition above.

Photos: YOYOKULALA.com

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