French fashion house Chanel puts on display its haute couture creations, dazzling diamond jewellery and the makings of its famed No. 5 scent in a London exhibition which reveals the creative history of one of the world's most luxurious brands.
The Mademoiselle Prive exhibit, which opened at London's Saatchi Gallery on Tuesday (13 October), showcases the worlds and works of late founding designer Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel and creative director Karl Lagerfeld, at the helm since 1983.
Coco Chanel is brought to life with recreations of her Parisian flat, first boutique and trips to Scotland, where she was inspired for her tweed jackets and skirt suits. On display are also couture gowns by Lagerfeld and a re-edition of the only jewellery collection Coco Chanel designed in 1932.
"That's crazy what one can do with Chanel ideas. Things that she never did, things that she'd never accept, we'll never know, but it doesn't hurt to play with such numerous elements and different things," Lagerfeld said ahead of the exhibition opening.
The diamond pieces were modelled by celebrities like actresses Julianne Moore and Kristen Stewart at Chanel's July haute couture show, each wearing specially-designed gowns.
"Those pieces look more modern than many pieces of jewellery other companies have. I think they are quite, I love them. The theme is the star, so it plays around that, so we talk stars, young, famous and less famous to show the thing," Lagerfeld said at a preview of the exhibition on Monday (12 October).
"Normally I don't take care of Chanel jewellery, but they asked me to do something special for this collection so I made a choice of people we know, friends and things like this and made special dresses for each girl, what was right for her personality and put the jewellery on. So it was a very personal thing."
Lagerfeld has also written a film where he imagines an encounter with Coco Chanel, played by Geraldine Chaplin. Also on display are a maze of fabric swathes from the Chanel atelier as well as bubbling cauldrons which open up to reveal the ingredients of the Chanel No. 5 perfume.
Lagerfeld, 82, is credited with having regularly infused freshness into the label to keep it modern and at the same time faithful to its heritage.
"This whole thing was a sort of challenge for me and it worked out 100 times better than I could ever imagine. The owner told me 'Do whatever you want, and if it works, it works, and if it doesn't, I'll sell it', and it all worked out very, very, very, very well and I am very, very happy both for him and for me," he said.