The latest beautiful and unique addition to the world of Chanel, Saatchi's Mademoiselle Prive was what I would call a fashionable event about fashion - not a fashion exhibition for it wasn't really about the history of elegant clothes, couture or diamonds, but Gabrielle Chanel, the woman who was in the beginning of the brand everyone, even a kid, would be aware of, to say the least.
Her life was extraordinary and so was the exhibition housed over three floors of the Saatchi Gallery and its country yard designed to be a memorable visual, tactile and olfactory experience that began as soon as you stepped into an embrace of a tranquil garden created especially for the exhibition to highlight key events of Coco's life that shaped her vision as a designer.
Inside the gallery itself you can't help but experience a feeling of je ne sais quoi walking straight into the wall paper from Chanel's apartment and then - replicas of the famous staircase from Chanel's atelier and her first boutique. The journey continues from room to room and object to object representing house codes and influences, some of which are interactive and can reveal hidden content if you point at them with your iPhone - something I've never seen before and pretty magical.
Next was "a maze of ivory fabrics", yards and yards them hanging from selling to floor. At first they all seemed the same, but being curious I touched one suddenly realising that this was my very first and most likely only chance to touch the actual tweed destined to become a Chanel piece. So I continued carefully caressing the layers discovering silks and organza, linen and cotton, never forgetting how buttery, baby-soft, smooth and wonderful that tweed was!
The sensory experience continued in another room inspired by the creation of Chanel No. 5 where giant cauldrons filled the air with fragrances of jasmine and rose, and the next - a real maze-like 18th century garden inspired by the intertwined C motif.
And for the lovers of fashion and jewellery there were two rooms showcasing "Bijour de Diamants" created in 1932 and a couture collection held by beams of light to show the intricate details and lining of each dress.
If this didn't seem like a good enough introduction to Chanel, there was also a short film written and created by Lagerfeld as if he's having a chat with Coco herself as well as a series of workshop where you could learn the story of Chanel No. 5, and art of making embroidery, feather and flower decorations including the famous camellia with the Lesage and Lemarie artisans.
As I was leaving the building thinking of coming back one more time before the exhibition is over, I thought how surreal and wonderful the experience was, like being inside a book - one of those giant and heavy pop-up confections I would marvel at as a kid. It was a beautiful fantasy - effortless, clever, imaginary, inspirational and unforgettable.
P.S. The exhibition runs until 1 November 2015 and open daily between 10am and 7pm. Be prepared to queue.
Photo source: taken by me, except photo no. 3 & 8 via Harper's Bazaar