According to Merriam-Webster, ephemeral means to last for a very short time. It is how Chanel describes their pop-up boutiques, that for the longest time have only appeared in the most exotic of locales like Courchevel, Le Marais and Saint-Tropez, just to name a few. Come 16 June 2017, however, Singapore will join the ranks of these famed locations and open its very own stand-alone Chanel Ephemeral Boutique at Marina Bay Sands for a limited time only.
Slated to run till the end of October 2017, it will house 3 distinct collections from the get-go, starting with the #ParisCosmopolite Métiers d’Art collection that I had the pleasure of previewing at the glitzy Ritz Hotel in Paris last year.
But before I reveal more of what you can expect from Chanel’s first ephemeral boutique in Singapore, here’s an interview I did with Chanel’s President of Fashion Bruno Pavlovsky just before the Fall-Winter 2017 (#CHANELGroundControl) show (remember that giant space rocket?) on the Chanel surprise, retail pop-ups now and his Chanel must-haves for every woman.
How does it feel to be the man behind the world’s largest luxury brand for women?
I don’t know if it’s important if it’s a man or woman behind Chanel. What I know is Chanel is unique and special and has built its business model supported by creativity. Fashion is the key word at Chanel. And even though we have watches, fine jewellery and fragrances, fashion ultimately is the backbone of our business.
My job is to give the right support to the creative process and be able to define this creative vision, to maximise each collection. When I say maximise the collection, we take what we have and try to amplify it the best we can. We are not a marketing-driven company; we are in a trend-driven company. And that’s what makes Chanel so successful.
You say you’re not a marketing-driven company but one driven by creativity. How then do you ensure that you are always on top of the game, from a business point of view?
Our objective is to make sure that we allow our customers to dream – that’s an important part of our creative vision. We create the dreams. More importantly, we have to constantly surprise them. A key message at Chanel? Let Chanel surprise you. I think that’s something very powerful and true. We need to surprise our customers and keep them engaged, and Mr Karl Lagerfeld does this very well.
He expresses this creativity through different collections, different shows, different exhibitions, different boutiques, different products. Everything that we are doing is simply approaching creativity from different angles. And while it might be different, there’s still consistency which is what makes Chanel so unique to our customers.
Chanel launches a new fashion collection almost every 2 months. How do you keep up with it?
Passion. The people who are working with us, the ateliers, the maisons, they are working every day, working on every step of the creative process. They make it happen, they are in charge of taking Chanel’s creative vision and bringing it to life.
Lagerfeld brings about a vision, and its key for the next step of the development process, it never stops. Tomorrow (a day after this Fall-Winter 2017 show), we have a meeting with Lagerfeld to start to work on the Cruise 2018 collection.
After this show, this collection goes into production. There are people taking care of this, while others will focus on the next one. Our people are important to us; they allow us to constantly be on the move, moving into new collections, moving towards the future.
In our current global climate, a lot of the shows are getting smaller and more intimate, so why is it important for Chanel to continue doing such grand, large-scale shows?
We have small and big. The Haute Couture presentation was much smaller, December’s #ParisCosmopolite at the Ritz Hotel was much smaller.
Not really, it was still big with 3 shows that ran from morning to night.
But it was much smaller and more intimate. (laughs) Here at the Fall-Winter 2017 presentation, it is one show, 3000 people and a giant space rocket! At the end of the day we are only able to do that because the collection is very strong. And it is a collection that everyone will remember. Two hours from now, when we talk about this show, everyone will remember this rocket because they were so surprised. Everyone will also remember the bags that came down the runway along with it, the clothes, the looks, the accessories, and it was only possible because we put on this grand, large-scale show, to help all 3000 guests dream the Chanel dream.
What’s the kind of retail experience one can expect when walking into any Chanel boutique around the world? And what will they take away from the store?
They will feel the energy of each collection. A lot of work is done to ensure that in every single boutique in the world, when you walk in, you will feel that you’ve seen the entire collection, the showroom, the show even, that’s very important, and that’s the Chanel way.
With regards to retail pop-ups, is it going to be more and more commonplace? Like the one we had last year in Singapore with #ChanelAirlines at Pedder on Scotts?
Yes, we do a few every year. It’s not so much about having pop-ups just for business. We see it as a new avenue of creativity that we want to offer in some countries, in some cities, to attract and engage with our customers new and old. It’s a new way, in my opinion, to communicate the strong creativity we have at Chanel.
This is a question for my readers. What are the 3 items every woman should have from Chanel? What would you suggest?
Jacket. Bags. Shoe.
Specific bag, specific shoe?
(laughs) For me, we have iconic pieces at Chanel. The little black jacket is one. For bags, the 2.55 is my favourite, I’m not very original! (laughs) And something which is an important part of Chanel’s history would be the two-tone ballerina. That would be my shoe of choice.