Excuse me while I state the obvious: Paris is the global capital of chic. So when we received an invitation from Chanel beauty to stay at the Ritz and get the ultimate Parisian experience, we couldn’t say no.
This is how to live your best million-dollar lifestyle (but with an air of classic Parisian nonchalance).
Mix cash-splash with unpretentiousness. Play on nuances.
The Ritz is the most luxurious hotel on the planet. The former home of Coco Chanel, and Ernest Hemingway (stated purely for historical credibility), today you can go there for tea during fashion week and might end-up seeing Gigi Hadid chasing Bella through the corridors.
But staying at the beacon of luxury, having been invited by the most luxurious brand in the world is a bit too obvious for chic French people.
The general rule is to offset super loud displays of luxury. Try to get there by bicycle or go for dinner at an unpretentious restaurant in lesser touristic corners of Paris for example – this is the Parisian formula. And that’s how Chanel sees life.
Take Chanel’s muses as a style cue. They’re all down-to-earth-hair-in-the-wind Parisians like Caroline de Maigret and Kristen Stewart. While their clothes are all Chanel, they balance it out with their unaffected artsy demeanors.
Want to be chic? Don’t do anything too obvious. Chanel’s Global Creative Make up and Colour Designer, Lucia Pica, has applied the same thinking to her new collection. It’s called Noir et Blanc de Chanel (Black and White), but guess what, nothing is black and white; it’s all about playing with nuances. That dark gloss has hints of brown, that white shimmer translates to silver depending on the angle. Her inspiration? Paris of course and it’s shades of grey, beige, and rust.
Chose the best of everything. We said the best, not the most expensive (French people never talk about money)
Lucia Pica herself designed our stay. After a quick lunch at Hôtel Costes, another fashion week hotspot, we were invited to an hour and a half of pure hedonism. The Ritz is home to the only Chanel spa in the world. Our super luxe trip started there. “What kind of scent would you like to accompany your treatment?” asked the esthetician before showing me the full range of Chanel perfumes. I chose Paris-Venise, she then proceeded to atomize it in my room before my facial.
While I’m not a fan of long facials, this one was so luxurious, so indulgent, that I fell asleep. After that she offered to put light makeup on me, a great idea for the Parisian on the go that I tried to embody during this trip.
Pica herself selected all the activities on our calendar. Including stops at her favorite restaurants: Kinugawa, a Japanese restaurant frequented by the fashion crowd of Place Vendôme, and Clover Green, one of Michelin Star chef Jean François Pièges’ restaurants, but also Da Graziella a typical Neapolitan pizzeria, and Sauvage, a low-key restaurant that specializes in paring fruits and vegetables, and easily one of the most delicious restaurants I’ve eaten at in Paris.
Outside of the food fest, Chanel gave us access to the iconic apartment of Coco Chanel on rue Cambon, a treat knowing that this historical place is only frequented by journalists and some happy few. Upon entering our eyes were drawn to the beautiful art-deco staircase lined with mirrors where Chanel’s first presentations took place.
A beautiful lady was waiting for us to take us to the second floor, the apartment remained untouched after her passing. She never slept there, she slept at the Ritz, but she used to host all of Paris in this small space filled with sumptuous artefacts.
Every single corner of this apartment was a source of inspiration for Chanel’s many creative departments whether it is the Coromandel Chinese screens that inspired a make-up collection to the many animals she had in pairs (she was very superstitious), or more recently her book collection, which inspired the latest couture show.
Be educated for god’s sake
It was finally time to head to the Grand Palais, one of Paris’ most iconic monuments built in glass and steel by Gustave Eiffel, a jewel of early century architecture.
This is usually where the monumental Chanel shows happen and this is where Lucia Pica decided to have her presentation. Upon entering, massive video projections covered the walls.
The voice of Pica resonated throughout the building, she was taking us on a visual stroll through Paris, with photos and videos she took as a guideline to her new collection. A few rooms later, she stood in front of a reconstitution of her own atelier with pigments, drawings, and a full mood board behind her.
My personal favorite items from the new collection are the clear gloss with luminous touches of glitter (perfect on cheekbones for an ultra-dewy look), and the eyeshadow she invented to apply as a topcoat to add some shimmer to your look.
After a masterclass with Pica herself, it was time for us to head to Atelier Brancusi, one of the Paris cultural stopovers that inspired her. Brancusi is a sculptor known for his abstract, organic shapes. His atelier is home to some of his most famous works of art including The Kiss, a legendary masterpiece.
After a stop at Musée de l’Orangerie, and a guided visit to Musée Rodin the following day, my takeway was that Paris’s obsession of putting art above everything was the perfect experiential anecdote to today’s digital world.