Here begins my epic task of catching up on all of the stuff I didn’t manage to post before the end of 2019, and I’m going to start with a bit of a Chanel update. Because who doesn’t love a dose of double-c luxury to kick of the year?
Before Christmas I was invited on the press trip of dreams; a visit to the Chanel skincare labs to look at their latest launches, coupled with a very swanky stay in Paris. Let’s face it, a trip with Chanel is never going to be shoddy, but this was next-level extra; bedding down at the Ritz (in a room, I should add, I didn’t just pull out a sleeping bag and lie in the lobby) and some really quite excellent dining.
Despite the fact that on the way out to Paris I was surviving on 75 minutes’ sleep from the night before (can’t ever sleep before an early wakeup call, see Early Bird) I threw myself into the Chanel immersion wholeheartedly, touring the HQ, having my makeup done at the Chanel flagship store on the Champs Elysees and even doing some Chanel-themed crafts. (Gilding my own Chanel logo with gold leaf. As you do. Crafting de Chanel.)
I sat in what can only be described as a Chanel Classroom, learning about some of the ingredients they use in the new Sublimage cleansing range (the new l’Huile-en-Gel Cleanser* is a gorgeous gel-to-oil-to-milk concoction, if you’re a Chanel-ophile and are in the market for a luxury treat!) and I went down the skincare labs to see how a few of the raw ingredients are extracted.
But my favourite part of the trip was a tour around the Chanel archives. Les Archives de Chanel. (I think I irritated the entire press group by labelling everything X de Chanel. It was all so stylish, so minimalist. Even the lifts looked nice. Lifts de Chanel. I just could’t help myself!)
In the archives they had some of the most important dresses and suits from various decades and they had loads of amazing photographs showing early designs and campaigns, but it was the vintage beauty packaging room that really tickled my fancy. It was like opening a time capsule, but a brilliantly elegant one – no mouldy parchments, broken records or rusty old sardine cans here! Instead there were teeny oil-paint tubes of moisturiser, bottles of talc, boxes of soap – all of them vintage and some from as far back as the 1920s.
What I found amazing was how many of the products that Chanel introduced in the 20s are echoed in their modern launches – in some ways the types of product and the way that they are presented has changed very little.
Glass bottles with sleek shapes and unfussy labels, minimalist black and white boxes and products that seemed more than a little familiar. How brilliant that some products available today, such as the Huile de Jasmine, were originally launched almost a hundred years ago!
It seems crazy that a product idea can work so well, be so desired and cherished, that it has almost the same look and formula a whole century later. If that’s not a masterclass in branding then I don’t know what is!
Although I have to say that the hand cream has evolved somewhat: from simple tube to what has to be one of the most ergonomic and satisfying pieces of packaging I’ve ever had the pleasure of touching. Have you seen the Chanel Creme Main? It’s housed in a perfectly smooth pebble of a bottle that fits exactly into the palm of your hand. So clever. So unusual. So well executed.
I realise I’m going down one of my rave routes (as in I’m getting diverted and praising something for ages, not as in I’m following a trail of gurning, topless, whistle-blowing dancers to a large tent in a remote field) and so I’ll stop now. I do wish I’d made more comprehensive notes on all of these archived products, though – honestly, they were fascinating. Look at the tanning products!
I can’t imagine too many people were bringing out tanning products as a range in that era – this was really thinking outside and around the proverbial box and giving people products that they didn’t even know they needed. Not just tanning oil, but self tan – get that sunshine hit without even stepping outside…
Marvellous. I’d go again, if only just to take better photos and write things down. As it happened I was too busy enjoying myself.
You can find the new Sublimage cleansing range online here* – my pick would be the Oil-in-Gel Cleanser* because it completely (and easily) removes makeup without being at all drying. Obviously the Sublimage pricetag applies, here, so please don’t faint when you see it.
Pricetag de Chanel.