Mademoiselle Chanel and the Paris Ritz: Mysterious Love Story

The suite of the Ritz Paris witnessed the life of one of the greatest women of the 20th century - Mademoiselle Chanel.


The Paris Ritz located in Place Vendome was built in 1889 by French architects named Jules Hardouin-Mansart, Charles Mewès, and Bernard Gaucherel. However, 39 years after an opening day, Mademoiselle Chanel officially came here to live. Mademoiselle Chanel sent a letter to a logo decorator of the Ritz named Antoinette Bernstein. The letter also revealed that Mademoiselle Chanel frequently visited this place between 1910 and 1935 before moving to live in it.


In 1910, Mademoiselle Chanel’s first boutique was opened at 21 rue Cambon, Paris. After eight years of the opening day, an entire building was bought by Mademoiselle Chanel and expanded into a couture factory at 31 rue Cambon, Paris. From her boutique, Mademoiselle Chanel could go for a stroll to the back gate of the hotel. When living at 29 Faubourg Saint - Honoré Street - at the intersection of 31 Rue Cambon 04, Mademoiselle Chanel regularly selected the Ritz as a destination for her after parties all night. In addition to the hotel’s quiet atmosphere and convenience, the reasons why Mademoiselle Chanel chose this hotel is that she wanted maids to have a plenty of time to tidy a room after perpetual parties, which was shared by Mademoiselle Chanel with a journalist named Marcel Haedrich.


In 1935, Mademoiselle Chanel lived in the Ritz. In daylight, she still worked hard at the boutique and returned to the suite of the hotel at night. From time to time, her friends were invited to dinner, and spent time sharing their private lives as well as social events. Mademoiselle Chanel's clients chose the Ritz to stay for months with a view to waiting for clothes made by tailors before returning to their countries with the latest designs from Paris.


When living in the Ritz, Mademoiselle Chanel did not live in a permanent room and she changed her accommodation in different periods of time. Over a period of 34 years of staying here, the changing of each room was associated with the ups and downs of Mademoiselle Chanel's life. In 1935, when Mademoiselle Chanel first moved to live in the Ritz, she stayed at the suite which was assembled by three small rooms 14, 15 and 16 on the third floor to Place Vendome. This leads to an inspiration for a design for the legendary Channel N ° 5 perfume’s bottle cap. At this time, Mademoiselle Chanel enjoyed glory in her career. Her maison de couture experienced a rapid increase in labor and boutiques to 4,000 workers and 5 stores respectively at Rue Cambon, Paris.


In 1939, at the beginning of World War II, Paris was occupied by the Nazis. Mademoiselle Chanel closed her shops in Paris, maintaining her shop at 31 Rue de Cambon. She moved to live in two rooms of the hotel towards Rue Cambon. However, Mademoiselle Chanel is fortunate to be one of the few individuals to be favored at the hotel. During this time, Mademoiselle Chanel lived in rooms of the Ritz, La Pausa Villas in Riviera and her house in Lausanne, Switzerland.


In 1945, at the end of World War II, the shop was reopened at 31 rue de Cambon, Mademoiselle Chanel moved to live in 2 rooms 304 and 305. From her room, there were magnificent views of the hotel’s garden. This is also the room where Mademoiselle Chanel passed away on January 10, 1971.


Upon living in the Ritz, Mademoiselle Chanel spent a lot of time decorating a private room with furniture carved Cocteau and Christian Bérard’ paintings, a beige suede sofa, crystal lamps, and a gold plated sterling silver box which was the gift from the Duke of Westminster. In 2012, during the inventory of furniture, a group of architects restoring the Ritz discovered a 400-year-old mysterious oil painting called The Sacrifice of Polyxena by an artist named Le Brun. It is suggested that this painting was bought by Mademoiselle Chanel during World War II.


There is a close connection between the history of the Ritz and the life of Mademoiselle Chanel. The place was chosen as the venue for Spring - Summer 1996 Couture Collection, Autumn 1996-97 Couture Collection, and Spring - Summer 1997 Couture Collection. Recently, on the occasion of newly-reopened the Ritz Paris after 4 years of restoration (from 2012 to 2016), the entire space of the restaurants named La Table de l'Espadon, Le Vendome, the Winter Garden, Les Jardins de l'Espadon and Le Salon Proust has been used for models’ catwalk. People attending the fashion show had a good chance to see Métier d' Art 2016 -17 collection which was inspired by the "Cosmopolite" women - a group of women who enjoyed the culture and the art of Paris in the twenties. Also, Mademoiselle Chanel has been considered as one of the most typical "Cosmopolite" women. Nearly five decades after the days Mademoiselle Chanel left the Ritz Hotel, her life and this place have been considered as “legendary tweed” which has been weaved together with a view to creating the most mysterious story of the 20th century.

By: Hilary Swift

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