The overcast skies of July in San Francisco called for hats. I met my buddy Joe at the big heart sculpture at Geary and Stockton at the entrance to Union Square. We had both decided to do it up old school and dress for the trip to Chanel. I wore black wide wale cords with a black tee and a white dress shirt over that and a few silver accessories. An homage to Mademoiselle Chanel, you bet! To finish off the look I wore my straw black ribbon rim Zara fedora. Joe wore casual summer yellow dress shirt, tan slacks and tan loafers. His topper was his yellow and black straw Frank Sinatra hat.
(Where everyone seems to leave their heart. Union Square ~ San Francisco)
As I stood by the giant metal heart tour busses passed and hordes of freezing tourists pointed cameras at me and clicked away. When those on foot asked me to move out of the shot, I realized it was the heart they wanted the shot of, not me! Joe arrived at a quarter to twelve, and immediately we both made the observation that nobody takes the time to look nice when they go down town. We were getting looks and smiles from the ladies and a few guys as well for our efforts to look like we even cared about the rags we were sporting.
(Madien Lane with Union Square at the end of the street.)
We had a light lunch at Mocca on Maiden Lane, tomato and mozzarella salad, escargot, baguettes and a nice crisp Pinot Grigio. I managed to squirt a bit of butter and garlic right slap in the middle of my white shirt. OH WELL! Maybe that is why nobody dresses for town anymore. We talked about growing up back in the 1900’s, he in Saint Louis and me in Southern California. We shared what we learned about style from the movies and how different we are in our tastes from our fathers. By the time my escargot stain had dried and faded to nearly invisible it was time to go next door to Chanel!
(Chanel right next to Mocca. How convienent.)
All my lovely new friends at Fragantica had armed me with truckloads of information, advice and clever points of interest about Les Exclusifs de Chanel line. After being warmly greeted by the man at the door we sauntered over to the fragrance counter. There was a stylish woman looking at some quilted bags and the only sales lady was busy with her. I looked at Joe, his eyes were huge; this was his first time in the Chanel Boutique. It really is amazing, the design of the place, the object d’art that they call purses, shoes, dresses, jewelry. Chanel is a stunner for a first time visitor. (I am still kicking myself that I didn’t walk into 31 Rue Cambon when I was last in Paris.)
Well, the sales lady was still occupado so I began spraying Allure, Chance, and No. 19 on cards and letting Joe smell them. Joe is NOT a fragrance guy. So I began to tell him all about Chanel and the history of the house to pass the time until we were helped. In that very instant a lovely blonde lady came from a hidden door and offered her assistance. I asked about the Exclusifs line and she directed me to a special display just for the line. Wow it looked like heaven. The bottles all lined up and with their own special lighting. There were cards for each scent so that you wouldn’t get confused as you test them.
(Bingo! Les Exclusifs!)
Buy now the only thing I could remember from my friends from Fragantica was, “Take your time and smell each one” EACH ONE? There are so many and I am only good for about four before my nose is overwhelmed and I can no longer distinguish one from the other. I looked over the bottles and picked up Cuir de Russie. “You might like this Joe, it is leather.” I sniffed it, Wow! Then Joe sniffed it, and he looked at me. “WOW I have never smelled anything like that!” he said in true virginal wonder. We tried a few more, Sycamore, No. 22, Jersey, 31 Rue Cambon. They were all so unique! But as my nose was shutting down I looked at Joe. “Cuir de Russie?” I asked. He nodded. “That’s the one!”
The sales lady returned and she could not have been nicer. I told her my choice and she told me that not only would she retrieve that for me but she would throw in some samples of a few others. Which one had I liked? I wanted to say “ALL of them.” but narrowed it down to just the few I had tested. Her name was Ann and she called me by my first name which was nice. Ann returned with minis of Beige, Sycamore and an extra mini of Cuir de Russie (which I gave to Joe.)
As we were leaving I told her how fascinated I was by the boutique and she invited us to go upstairs and see the new collection Paris~Bombay, inspired by the British Raj in India. Well now that was incredible. The charming David Mohammadi RTW Fashion Advisor at Chanel up top showed us all around, gave us a catalog and filled us in on what was up in the world of Chanel. I had no idea that Chanel did messenger bags for men a few years back and that the little black jacket was designed for men! He showed us an incredible book of photos of the jacket worn by people from around the world, men and women alike. There is an art exhibit of the photographs touring the world from which the book is derived. The show is in Tokyo at the moment then on to Hong Kong.
(Chanel San Francisco first floor. Fragrance up the short stairs in the back.)
I just have to say, if you get the chance to go into a Chanel Boutique do it. They are so nice! And be sure to ask lots of questions. Joe was impressed by the whole thing and who knows, this trip may have opened a new world to him. He discovered he likes leather, and oriental notes the best. As for me I found a really wonderful new scent (I will review later) and I am already planning my next visit to Chanel. There are so many more things there to smell!
Thank you to my friends at Fragantica, divine, Hiliare, dalmajen, amelie, Timdoeseell, Sacredsystem, lovingthealien, Lobster2010, ThatMakesSence, thanks to all of you who help make this a really wonderful fun experience.
(first posted on Fragrantica Sunday July 1, 2012)