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What Chanel Should Do

Posted by: Reena Jana on December 23, 2008

Chanel recently announced the cancellation of its Mobile Art tour, which featured a spaceship-like gallery designed by “starchitect” Zaha Hadid. The fashion-meets-art project probably seemed like a chic intellectual and creative (and marketing) exercise before the economic downturn. The portable building, featuring work by the likes of well-known contemporary artists like Sylvie Fleury, was scheduled to hit London, Moscow, and Paris after New York. Now it won’t. (It already toured Hong Kong and Tokyo). But why not turn the sleek structure into a pop-up store?

When I visited the building when it was installed in New York’s Central Park, that’s all I could think: wow, they should sell their elegant wares here—amidst the art that directly references Chanel’s design legacy. Here’s a video I took on opening day, musing that Hadid’s building really is as much like a store as it is a mini-museum:

And here’s another video I shot, inside. The girl employed by Chanel, just standing there with the Chanel T-shirt on (one of many)? She could have been selling No. 5 perfume. Or imagine a private sale for VIPs in what could be the world’s most stylish pop-up store, rather than, or in addition to, expensive opening-night parties with no direct ROI. Sure, the company could have still celebrated the wonderful artwork featured even if it turned Hadid’s building into a high-end shop. And imagine the sculptures and photographs also for sale. Perhaps part of the commission could go to Chanel? Think of how innovative a store the Mobile Art structure could have been—or could be—mixing art and commerce in an extremely fashionable and inventive way.

Reader Comments


December 23, 2008 8:39 PM

Videos are unavailable, marked as 'private'

Reena Jana

December 24, 2008 10:30 AM

Thanks for letting me know my videos were marked "private" by mistake. In the spirit of transparency, I have to admit I mark my youtube videos as "private" by default because I post videos of my son for friends and family to see. Perhaps another reason to have separate work/life social media accounts. And...the Chanel videos are now public. Thanks again!


December 24, 2008 1:31 PM

That's a subject that never receives enough attention, besides cautionary tales of those who post unfortunate updates to Facebook and lose their jobs/spouses/scholarships.

The thought that there's one universal 'me' that encompasses my work, social and romantic lives is something that doesn't hold up to scrutiny in the modern age. People need to adjust their expectations and habits when jumping into public forums, and those forums themselves need to adapt and embrace this part of our nature.


January 7, 2009 8:14 AM

Much has to do with the control brands want to have over their branding. Whilst I understand them, I think it's an outdated concept.

There may be a fear that perhaps some of these works of art may bring the wrong association, or it's uncontrollable what will be in the shop.. or a touring pop up store is hardly the pinnacle of luxury etc etc.

Branding is done through so many ways, channels, web 2.0 or otherwise, and many of them will not let you control every detail of it.

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