The boutique was open for three months ending on September 1, in time to take advantage of the summer tourist season. In a crisp décor bathing in the signature black and white colors of Coco Chanel, the boutique showcased some of the house’s iconic models, immortalized by the talents of the photographer Patrick Demarchelier who shot Chanel’s most recent publicity campaign titled "L'Instant Chanel.”
The boutique offered museum visitors, on their way to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, a chance to admire Chanel’s new J12-365, the new Première with its triple row bracelet, and the J12 Blue Light, a version of the J12 in white “hi-tech” ceramic and luminescent blue numerals.
“The idea of the pop-up store was a reference to 1987 when we first opened a boutique dedicated to watches on Avenue Montaigne that launched a new era in watchmaking for Chanel,” said Nicolas Beau, international director of Chanel Horlogerie. “Our goal has always been to make beautiful watches where mechanics are at the service of aesthetics,” Mr. Beau said.
For a brand that places a high value on creativity and aesthetics, the enclosure of Musée du Louvre, one of France’s most revered cultural venues, offers the means to combine the experience of a luxury boutique with that of an art museum. For Chanel, it is a means to intimate the association between luxury and cultural heritage, inscribing its luxury products in the long-term tradition of culture.
“The appeal of Chanel’s products is their lasting appeal,” Mr. Beau explained. “The Chanel no. 5 perfume has been around since 1921. It is not a trend-based product. The same is true of the little black dress and the quilted Chanel bag.”
The relationship to art allows luxury products to acquire the characteristics of art by association, including uniqueness, legitimacy and permanence. “Chanel makes products that last and remain desirable,” Mr. Beau said. “Few luxury brands have a portfolio of products with an endless lifetime. That is what lives in the Chanel name and was invented by Gabriel Chanel.”
Over the years, Chanel has experimented with the idea of connecting art to its luxury products. In 2008, for instance, it commissioned the Mobile Art Pavilion, a 700-square meter futuristic structure designed by the Pritzker-award winning architect, Zaha Hadid, filled with works commissioned from 20 international contemporary artists asked to interpret the brand’s iconic quilted 2.55 handbag, the black, stitched-leather purse designed by Coco Chanel in 1955.
Establishing a presence, ephemeral or not, in close proximity to the Louvre, a prime international cultural destination, also enables luxury brands to benefit from the rising trend in cultural tourism.
Last year, the Louvre welcomed 9.3 million visitors making it not just the most visited attraction in Paris, but also the most visited museum in the world, ahead of the British Museum in London (with 6.7 million visitors) and the Metropolitan Museum in New York (with 6.3 million visitors), according to figures published last April by the Art Newspaper.
According to Paolo de Cesare, Le Printemps’s president, a luxury goods department in the commercial area of the museum enables tourists to satisfy their two principal reasons for being there, luxury shopping and culture.
The Louvre expects attendance numbers to rise by 30 percent over the next decade, forecasting some 12 million visitors by 2025. Le Printemps du Louvre estimates its revenues to top €20 million this year alone.
A number of high-end watch brands including Chopard, Rolex, Montblanc, Hermès and Parmigiani are already present in the Carrousel du Louvre. With the 2014 edition of the Salon des Belles Montres set to take place in the same venue next November, the list is likely to grow.
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