New York might be known as the city that never sleeps, but one could just as easily call it the city that’s always shopping. From the mom-and-pop shops in the Village to the mega malls on the West Side, the Big Apple provides ample opportunity to dispense of a paycheck, regardless of neighborhood. And yet, even amid local competition, the city’s iconic Fifth Avenue stands out from the crowd. The storied street, which will celebrate its 200th anniversary in 2024, helped New York establish itself as a premiere destination during the Gilded Age and it continues to draw luxury shoppers (and gawkers) in droves.
However, despite its esteemed status, one might argue that the avenue has been missing a certain French je ne sais quoi. Not because of the traffic or the hot dog vendors, but because Fifth Avenue has never had a Chanel. Quelle surprise, right? But the surprise ends here. Chanel opening its very first U.S. watches and fine jewelry flagship on Fifth Avenue February 9.
Tucked into the gilded architecture of the historic Crown Building, the maison’s newest boutique is an opulent escape. The two-story space, designed by long-standing Chanel collaborator, Peter Marino, pays homage to the house’s legendary watch and fine jewelry address in Paris, 18 Place Vendôme, and, more poignantly, to Gabrielle Chanel herself. Ms. Chanel, an avid consumer of art, architecture, and inimitable interior objects, considered five her lucky number. It’s safe to say she would have been quite pleased with her house’s latest location on Fifth.
The boutique’s façade is immediately striking, adorned with grooved black granite and intricately cast gold-bronze screens. The Chanel-coded black and gold motif continues throughout the boutique’s interior, which is filled with art, antiques, and custom furniture. Rock crystal “Dream Catcher” chandeliers by the Parisian goldsmith, Goosens, welcome shoppers into the gallery room, a gilded space that is also home to a unique sculpture by the late French decorative artist, André Dubreuil. Upstairs on the mezzanine floor, which hosts two of the boutique’s four fine jewelry salons, pieces such as Tang Dynasty ceramic camels and a Louis XV desk by Jacques Dubois compolement “tweed” lamps by Delos & Ubiedo.
Among the impressive art collection, which also includes a black-painted wall piece by American sculptor Louise Nevelson, and a custom polyptych collage by Iranian-American painter Y.Z. Kami, one will, of course, also find an extensive and enchanting selection of jewelry and timepieces. Emblematic Chanel fine jewelry collections, like Coco Crush and Camélia, are displayed in inviting jewel cases, along with watches, like the house’s iconic J12.
The standouts, however, are the house’s patrimony items—historic, one-of-a-kind pieces that are not for sale. Patrice Leguéreau, Director of Chanel’s Fine Jewelry Creation Studio, imagined an exclusive High Jewelry collection to honor the boutique. The Eternal N°5 set is composed of a transformable diamond necklace and earrings, and can be seen exclusively at the New York store. Also currently on display is the stunning 55.55 necklace, inspired by Chanel’s No. 5 perfume bottle, and named for the carat weight of the diamond at its center. Lion Solaire, a new High Jewelry collection draws inspiration from Gabrielle Chanel’s beloved Leo star sign, will also launch on Fifth Avenue, the first of many collections to come.