The house of Chanel is synonymous with its founder. Starting Chanel over 100 years ago, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel remains at the heart of the creative vision of the design house.
Chanel will exploit this heritage further in a new collection of Chanel Gabrielle handbags and a fragrance that it will unveil in 2017, according to The Financial Times.
Coco’s character has also provided the basis for a series of four short films that will be released throughout the year around the themes of rebellion, freedom, passion and allure.
Gabrielle Chanel the fragrance, the house’s first new women’s scent to launch in 15 years, will hit the market later this year and will be priced 20 per cent higher than its existing perfume ranges. Sales have been strong in recent months, according to Christine Dagousset, President of Fragrance and Beauty.
“Fragrances and make-up led the growth in 2016, with the success of the launch of No.5 L’Eau, growing No.5 by more than 20 per cent, and the launch of Lucia Pica’s first audacious collection in her new role as global creative designer for make-up and colours.
“Europe and the US were the major growth contributors, “adds Dagousset. “In terms of the 2016 ranking, we expect that Coco Mademoiselle will retain its number one position and that No.5 will move up to second position, thanks to the success of No.5 L’Eau. Our ambition with the launch of Gabrielle Chanel in the fall is to further consolidate our unmatched leadership in fragrances worldwide.”
In accessories, four styles of the Chanel Gabrielle handbag, which was first presented at Chanel’s spring/summer 2017 ready-to-wear show, will launch in March. A new watch inspired by the camellia – Gabrielle’s favourite flower – will launch at Basel this year, and is designed to speak to themes of “modernity, freedom, femininity with a boyish sense, independence,” says Frederic Grangie, president of Chanel watches and fine jewellery. He adds: “The jewellery market has been very dynamic for some years. More and more women are buying watches and jewellery for themselves.”
The launches follow of period of transition at Chanel. CEO Maureen Chiquet left in January last year due to differences of opinion over the strategic direction of the company. Her role was assumed by Chairman Alan Wertheimer, whose grandfather Pierre Wertheimer (and his brother Paul) co-founded the Societe des Parfums Chanel to product and market Chanel fragrances and beauty products, in 1924.
“In 2016 we had the best year we have ever had at Chanel,” in terms of volume of sales, says Bruno Pavlovsky, president of Chanel fashion.
Some of this success may be attributable to the price harmonisation that the brand has undertaken, which took full effect last year. Previously, price differentials had varied by as much as 50 per cent between European and Asian stores, creating parallel resale markets in Asia. Chanel responded by increasing prices by roughly 20 per cent in the Eurozone and decreasing them by 20 per cent or so in Asia.
And although Chanel’s home French market was down 20-30 per cent in 2016, Paris, the Rue Cambon, and the streets where the house’s founder worked, are still a powerful tool in marketing her allure.
Pavlovsky says: “We believe that Paris has to stay the capital of fashion, the capital of creation.. This is a moment where, as a brand, we have to be very supportive of what’s happening in Paris.”
In other Chanel news, we got a small insight into Olivia Douchez’s life, who at the age of 34 is responsible for a team of 40-plus petites mains – the seamstresses who bring to life the bespoke designs conceived by Chanel’s creative director Karl Lagerfeld.
Telegraph.co.uk reports that Douchez knew from a very young age that she wanted to work in fashion, and her passion for the techniques of garment-making saw her embark on professional training aged 15. After 10 years at Givenchy, she was headhunted by Chanel in 2015.
“I couldn’t believe my ears,” she says of receiving the call. Then came several interviews, a decisive one with Mr. Lagerfeld himself: It was the craziest, most stressful day of my life.”
Douchez now enjoys a privileged position as one of Lagerfeld’s closest collaborators. Six weeks before Chanel’s bi-annual couture shows, he will present to her and three fellow heads of atelier his sketches for the collection and talk through each design.
Assigning the construction to her team, she will oversee the making of around 20 dresses, often suggesting fabrics and finishes.
“One of my favourite aspects of the job is these meetings with Karl. I love to hear him talk through his vision and nothing leaves me feeling as content as when he is happy, when we have brought to life what he imagined.”
Once the collection has been presented to press and buyers, Douchez spends the year fulfilling orders, making a mannequin to fit each customer’s exact measurements, which is then stored in the Chanel ateliers in Paris, and travelling to the US, Dubai and London for fittings.
“I love to satisfy my client’s needs, to make sure that they will have a beautiful dress that fits them like a glove. I love the magic that happens when a sketch becomes a reality.”
We think that Douchez has the perfect job and full of envy right now!
By Cassandra Murnieks
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