Discovering Chanel

Pam Hetlinger Wearing Chanel, The Gabrielle Chanel Bag, Chanel Fall Winter 2017-18 show, Chanel Ground Control _ The Girl From Panama

While in Paris earlier this month for Fashion Week, to say my dreams came true would be an understatement! For part of my time there, I worked with the Chanel team on a very special experience. It was an opportunity for us to have a behind-the-scenes look at everything the brand stands for, with some unique stops along the way. I’ve been working with the iconic brand for a while now, and I don’t take a second of it for granted. This 3-day experience was like nothing else, though.

Since these three days were so unbelievable and memorable – and what girl doesn’t love Chanel? – I am so excited to share everything with you. If you’re been following me for some time, you know how close Chanel is to my heart and style aesthetic.

COCO CHANEL’S APARTMENT

It was nothing short of surreal to find ourselves at 31 Rue Cambon stepping foot in the apartment of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. Seeing where everything started for the brand left me in awe the whole time. It was amazing to see how this building has remained the same since she bought it in the 1920’s.

Not surprisingly, Coco basically designed the whole apartment on her own. Everything inside was significant to her in some way and it showed. From the mirrored staircase to the trinkets that were gifts from important people in her life, to the quilted couch pillow covers that she made one of her iconic bags out of, it was all amazing. I’m sure it is not a surprise to you that my favorite part of the tour was seeing the iconic mirrored staircase.

The reason she designed it that way it was because she wanted to see how the clothes would look like on a model from different angles. She hosted her first fashion shows here so this mirrored staircase played an important part in her career. She could see the client’s reactions right away (without them being able to see her.)

It even smelled like Chanel N°5 – which is something that was constantly spritzed back in Coco’s apartment and they still do it inside to this day. Just like the brand, this whole place felt very streamlined to what Chanel represents. And the coolest piece of info that we learned?  Coco didn’t actually sleep here – there wasn’t even a bed! She used the apartment to entertain and host, and below was her office and areas for fittings. (She slept at the Ritz which we attended on Day 3.)

Coco Chanel Apartment, Rue Cambon 31, Pam Hetlinger | The Girl From Panama

Fitting

After seeing the apartment, it was time for our fitting. We were being fitted for our look for the fashion show the next day. Again, such a pinch-me moment. This was surreal to enter the place where all of the celebrities and models get their fittings and to be seen by such a talented design team. The place had a million tweed jackets, sunglasses, bags, accessories, you name it. It was truly a Chanel dream. The room was all black and white with large windows, very fitting of the brand.

Chanel Ground Control

We started out the day with the Chanel fashion show – and loved it so much. You can read the top 3 things I liked the most about this show here. This show felt extra special because I knew I was going to spend my day getting to know more about the brand. Below is what I wore to the show.

Pam Hetlinger Wearing Chanel, The Gabrielle Chanel Bag, Chanel Fall Winter 2017-18 show, Chanel Ground Control _ The Girl From Panama

Pam Hetlinger Wearing Chanel, The Gabrielle Chanel Bag, Chanel Fall Winter 2017-18 show, Chanel Ground Control _ The Girl From Panama

Ateliers

We had a quick lunch with the group and then headed outside of Paris. We went to Pantin first and visited the Métiers d’Art Lemarié and Lesage. These are the ateliers where they make everything Chanel. It was surreal to see and experience the craftsmanship behind a brand I admire so much. This is definitely not fast-fashion here and it made me appreciate all my Chanel garments even more.

In this atelier, they handmade tweed and embroideries and no detail is forgotten. Feathers, the famous camellias, everything is handmade here. Each detail on each piece of Chanel clothing is thought-out and then uniquely crafted by someone. They are true artists. Here we also had a mini workshop class where we made some embroidered bracelets!

Métiers d’Art Lemarié and Lesage, Chanel Ateliers, Pam Hetlinger | The Girl From Panama

The other atelier that we visited was located in Aubervilliers, also outside of Paris. The name was Lognon. Even though we were only there for a few minutes, I absolutely loved this place! This is where they do the pleating in fabrics. Everything that you see here is handmade by an artist. Again, amazing stuff.

Métiers d’Art Lognon, Chanel Ateliers, Pam Hetlinger | The Girl From Panama

Métiers d’Art Lognon, Chanel Ateliers, Pam Hetlinger | The Girl From Panama

Métiers d’Art Lognon, Chanel Ateliers, Pam Hetlinger | The Girl From Panama

Breakfast at The Ritz

The last day we had an early breakfast at The Ritz. Like I mentioned, this is where Coco Chanel used to spend the nights. This was a great time to chat with the other bloggers and to embrace what an amazing experience we just had. Everyone was still pretty much in shock from the apartment, shows, and ateliers. It was also very special because we got to meet part of the Chanel team based in Paris. 

I’ll never forget my 3 days with the Chanel team during this discovery trip. I’m beyond grateful for the experience with such an inspiring brand and team. Thank you so much, Chanel! and thank you all for reading this post!

Photography by Maria Elena Valdes.

Discovering Chanel
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