Sleek, airy and abbreviated. The new Chanel store is as expertly packaged as the trendy shopping row it inhabits: West Hollywood's Robertson Boulevard. The boutique, which opens Friday, is the first in a new breed of smaller shops for the company that zero in on the season's trends and the neighborhood, a spokeswoman said.
The concept behind the mini store -- designed by Peter Marino, who is also responsible for Chanel's stunning Rodeo Drive revamp -- is to present a tightly edited selection of the season's pieces, including ready-to-wear, fine jewelry, accessories and cosmetics, similar to what a shrewd fashion editor might handpick for a photo shoot, said Barbara Cirkva, president of Chanel's fashion division. Merchandisers may focus on a certain color scheme or a trendy silhouette or handbag within the larger collections.
With Chanel's arrival on Robertson, the street's days as a quaint indie boutique district are officially over. (D&G; and Ralph Lauren are poised to open soon.) But it's still the row du jour for young starlets and wannabes looking to get "caught" by the paparazzi. Chanel denies that the new outpost is an attempt to appeal to a younger crowd, but the trendy location and smaller scope do suggest otherwise.
The 5,395-square-foot, two-story boutique includes a huge landscaped courtyard bordering the main floor. Up the polished black concrete staircase is a smaller space featuring pieces from the ready-to-wear collection with sliding glass doors opening onto a terrace. As on Rodeo, the color scheme is classic Chanel black and white, and original artwork was commissioned -- this time from Robert Greene, who created two oil works on vellum, collaged onto aluminum panels.
Pieces from the latest haute couture collection will be on display, and the store will carry a limited-edition line of four eye-catching nail polish shades: Melrose (a shocking pink), Rodeo Drive (soft purple), L.A. Sunrise (primary yellow) and L.A. Sunset (warm tangerine). The bright hues make up the Robertson Collection, sell for $25 each and are exclusive to the new location.
Depending on how business shakes out on Robertson, Cirkva said the company is likely to replicate the small-store concept in London, Paris and Tokyo.
"This is a way to create a unique point of view about Chanel," she said, "tailored to each location."
Fortunately for us, Chanel doesn't make low-rise booty jeans.