Melbourne’s CBD is undergoing a chic makeover with French fashion house Chanel becoming the latest luxury brand to unveil a new flagship store there.
In a bold move, Chanel has relocated from its prestigious 209 Collins Street location to take over a historic four-level building on the corner of Russell Street and Flinders Lane.
Originally purchased for $720,000 in 1980, the building that housed the Church of Scientology for 30 years was sold in May 2011 to Chanel for $7.4 Million.
“I am delighted to extend our valued Melbourne clients the ultimate experience in luxury with this new boutique, demonstrating the brand's commitment to the Victorian market, the pinnacle of the Chanel retail experience in Australia,” said David Blakeley, managing director of Chanel Australia and New Zealand.
Chanel commissioned New York starchitect Peter Marino for the site's design. Marino's global design portfolio includes the retail stores of Armani, Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Zegna, among many others.
The building itself has been transformed from its original four floors to six floors, including an excavation to create a basement storage area, columns removed to add open floor space, a Parisian-style façade upgrade and the implementation of a rooftop area.
Chanel will cover 700 square metres or retail space while the remainder of the building will house training facilities and offices. The new site is roughly four times the size of Chanel’s original Collins Street store.
Inside, Marino has successfully captured the longevity of the Chanel brand, which was founded in 1909 by Coco Chanel, with a design that reflects the store’s iconic packaging: black, white, cream and gold.
The first floor is dedicated to luxury handbags, fine jewellery, shoes and accessories, all housed within glass cabinets lined with tweed stools.
Upstairs, clients are invited to settle in to a space that, like many of Chanel’s boutiques, draws inspiration from the elegant interiors of Mademoiselle Chanel’s Parisian apartment on 31 rue Cambon.
The second floor is dedicated to ready-to-wear collections and features a VIP room for private shopping and exclusive customers.
While opulent, this floor still manages to exude comfort through its placement of sofas, coffee tables, a screen displaying the latest runway collections and a sitting room around an antique fireplace, similar to that found in Mademoiselle Chanel’s apartment.
Other furnishings reminiscent of French classic and European influences include Italian mirrors, gold drapery, antique lamps by Goossens and tables by Laurence Montano and Inrid Donat.
Art has been carefully curated for the space and the central cream-carpeted staircase also features acclaimed Aboriginal artist Dorothy Napangardi’s work "Karlangu."
Chanel already has flagship stores in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, and the new site boosts its profile as one of many luxury fashion houses laying down strong roots in Australia.
“Australia has come from being a relatively small market within the Chanel global market to becoming quite an important one,” Blakely told AFR of Chanel’s investment in the country. “More people are coming here and that’s being recognised by our Paris headquarters.”
Dolce & Gabbana and Paul Smith recently made their Australian debuts on Melbourne’s Paris End of Collins Street, while Bally will also move into a corner space at Exhibition and Collins streets. Collins is already home to Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Max Mara.