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Talking Chanel with three supermodels

Feb 01, 2018

After successful chapters in London (October 2015) and Seoul (June 2017), Mademoiselle Privé will run until February 10 at Hong Kong’s PMQ

In a rapid-fire 15-minute conversation, we talked Chanel with top models Irene Kim, Soo Joo Park and Caroline De Maigret. With the Mademoiselle Privé exhibition in full swing, it’s quite evident that the house has been a part of fond memories for many women all over the world, from all generations. That’s the power of Chanel.

Irene Kim @ireneisgood

Where are you based?

Seoul.

What did you think of the exhibition?

I think it was amazing! I totally got pulled into it. I loved how it was indoor/outdoor, and I loved the red elements and the camellias. It was great that it was a signature for Hong Kong. There was collaboration with local artists. I had been to the one in Seoul. It was quite different.

What was your favourite part?

The muslin room. I loved the sound of the fabric getting steamed and the sound of fabric being cut.

What was your first memory of Chanel?

My mom’s Chanel bag, which was in her closet. I would just stare at it. “What is this bag? What is this beautiful bag?” It was a 2.55 and I was in elementary school at the time. But my biggest memory was when I did a huge report on Gabrielle Chanel in middle school. I made a timeline of her life and inspiration, and talked about how influential the house she created was to fashion. How she was the first to dress women in a very modern and contemporary way. That was my biggest memory – so to have become friends with the brand feels so full-circle.

What was the first Chanel item that you owned?

Classic ballet flats. They have been with me for 10 years. I never even took them out of the box. They were just on display for a while.

What is your favourite Chanel scent?

I love No. 5. But I wear Boy for everyday use.

Do you collect anything Chanel?

Everything! Shoes, a lot of shoes. Then I started collecting the camellia that comes with the shopping box. I have them in a box and sometimes I stick them on my mirror.

Most prized Chanel possession?

I have this simple cropped bomber jacket that I wear all the time. You can’t even tell it’s Chanel. It’s not super-obvious – there are only tiny logos on the buttons. I wear it with everything! It was my second-biggest purchase. It’s navy.

In your next lifetime, who would you come back as? Gabrielle or Karl?

Gabrielle. She is one of my role models. I am sure it wasn’t easy to be a woman back then, but she prevailed. We are still celebrating her today!

Describe Chanel in one word.

Chanel is everything. Chanel is a woman.

Soo Joo Park @soojmooj


Where are you based?

NewYork.

What did you think of the exhibition?

It’s great! I was there for Seoul. It’s different. I like how there is an outside component. There are new elements that were commissioned for Hong Kong by artists based in the area – I really liked that.

What was your favourite part?

The muslin canvas dresses – that brought me back to the beginning of my relationship with Chanel. It was five years ago and I was on holiday with my family in LA. My agent called and said “Chanel wants to see you, but there is no guarantee that you will get the job. Do you want to go?” Of course I went! I flew myself to Paris. I landed in the morning, took a shower and went straight to a fitting casting, where I was asked to wear this canvas muslin dress.

Your first experience with Chanel involved a canvas dress?

At first I thought, “Maybe this collection was about canvas.” But actually how the fittings work is that there are two fittings that take place. The first one is with the canvas and not with Karl. I came back two days later and the dress was completed. I remember it had feathers at the bottom and was so beautiful. It was my first couture show. I had flown myself out to Paris and then ended up getting an exclusive booking with Chanel. It felt like a bit of a fairy tale. Being in the muslin room – the whole experience has been a flashback of this moment.

Do you remember your first memory of Chanel?

My dad used to go on lots of business trips and buy little gifts from duty-free for us. One time, he bought this mini bottle of Chanel No. 5. I was obsessed with it. My dolls and I played with it.

Favourite scent?

Coco. I actually discovered it on my friend. It’s floral and feminine.

First Chanel item that you purchased for yourself?

A Chanel bag. My mom had gotten me one as a college graduation present, but it wasn’t the classic. I wanted a classic to start out with. I got the 2.55 for myself in black. I still have it.

Do you collect anything Chanel?

I collect everything. The bags. Badges from the shows. The numbers from the runway that they give you. Envelopes with my name in calligraphy.

In your next lifetime, who would you come back as? Gabrielle or Karl?

Karl! Simply speaking, because he comes from a very wealthy family and seemed like he had a fluid life, but he chose to design. I know Karl. I have spoken to him. I love his presence.

What is Chanel to you?

Chanel is very important.

Caroline de Maigret @cdmdiary

Where are you based?

Paris.

What do you think of Hong Kong?

This is such a dream for me. Hong Kong has been one of those places for me – some places in your life that have been an object of fantasy. Hong Kong has been like that for me. It’s so great to be here.

What did you think of the exhibition?

I think it’s great. Putting into the light the art and the craft – this very specific part of Chanel that no one else has. The neon as the backbone of the dresses – veryBlade Runner – looks really cool. It enhances the embroidery, the feathers, the work. It’s three-dimensional. This was my perception of the whole exhibition: neoprene, tweed, smells, sounds – it’s like a lab.

What was your first memory of Chanel?

I have two. Being a kid, my mom had Chanel No. 5 perfume like any good French woman. I wasn’t allowed to touch it. It was exciting to the mind, like forbidden fruit. The second one, for my sister’s wedding, my parents offered to let me get a Chanel suit, which was such an incredible present! I was quite anxious; it’s not somewhere you think you will go as a young woman. I felt like I was going into a temple. It was a funny feeling where I became a woman and I felt really good there. It actually felt organic. It was like the Chanel rite of passage. There were cool trousers and tops. But it was still dreamy.

Do you collect anything Chanel?

Everything. Don’t you? Whatever I have from Chanel, I collect. The good thing is that with Chanel, it’s never outdated. I have to say, I have a lot of bags. I am a bad girl when it comes to bags. I collect backstage passes – they are actually drawn by Karl. It’s always a little drawing by Karl.

Favourite Chanel scent?

Eau de Chanel. It’s a cologne. I like the lightness of it. I like how it smells clean. I like it when the perfume does not overcome the person.

In your next lifetime, who would you come back as? Gabrielle or Karl?

Gabrielle. I am very happy to be a woman. I really enjoy the way she freed women from their bodies – they were wearing corsets at the time. She gave them pockets
and trousers and black! She made it possible for women to wear comfortable clothes. Society-wise, that was very important. She was, consciously or unconsciously, a big feminist in that way. She was also a big lover, which I think is cool. Emotions, to me, are what I look up to.

What is Chanel?

Chanel is elegance. Elegance is the deal you have with the house, in a way. At least you know you will always be chic. 

This feature originally appeared in the February 2018 print issue of #legend

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Kim Bui Kollar

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