Les Exclusifs de CHANEL 1957


Is it a year? An address? Two numbers combined? 1957 is all those things as well as the link between CHANEL and the United States.
A continent enamored with Gabrielle Chanel, captivated by her creations since her debut in 1912 and then by the personality of a free and independent woman who owed her success to no one other than herself. The fascination was mutual: Mademoiselle Chanel was drawn to America by her family’s past and dreams of her beloved father who set sail for the New World. Her desire to also live this dream and achieve lasting fame became a reality: «I admire and love America,» she confided to Paul Morand, «it’s where I made my fortune» (1). And it is also where she was hailed as the most influential designer of the 20th century in 1957.

Taking in Texas: Chanel and Marcus during the Marcus Western party outside Dallas on September 7th 1957 (this trip inspired Lagerfeld later for the Paris – Dallas Metiers d’Art show).


The love story between CHANEL and America began with fashion. The young milliner’s hats were distributed in New York department stores, and the press raved about her avant-garde style: Women’s Wear Daily predicted a great future for the famous sweaters created in Deauville from the moment they appeared in 1914 (2) and CHANEL designs flourished in the pages of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Vanity Fair each season.

Coco Chanel for N°5, its first campaign as featured in Harper’s Bazaar in 1937.

And then there was fragrance, of course. France discovered the fragrance N°5 in 1921, and the Americans fell in love with it three years later in 1924, the same year the first makeup collection was launched. «Americans buy all things luxurious, and the greatest luxury is fragrance»: Gabrielle Chanel’s intuition was once again right.
In 1928, Vogue US slipped into the beauty salon of the Jay Thorpe department store and met the hostess trained in Paris by CHANEL, who, in addition to performing treatments with CHANEL skincare products, also guided women in their choice of fragrance, «one of the most difficult things in the world when you have tried three or four» (3).
In 1934, advertising campaigns for fragrances in American magazines began introducing Americans to new scents, unprecedented in their conception – N°5 was the first luxury fragrance to use aldehydes – and revolutionary by their rich and floral olfactory composition.

Illustrator unknown, via Vogue, October 1926

The name CHANEL was on all lips, and its style worn by all women. The iconic little black dress was celebrated by Vogue US in October 1926. By referring to the Chanel design as the «Ford dress», in reference to the Ford T automobile which had been a best-seller since 1908, the magazine ushered the little black dress into fashion history. On Broadway, actresses Katharine Cornell and Gertrude Lawrence took to the stage dressed in CHANEL. Hollywood also clamored for Gabrielle Chanel, who travelled to Los Angeles at the request of Samuel Goldwyn in 1931 to dress the actresses of MGM Studies, including Gloria Swanson, who became one of her friends.

Coco Chanel during a working visit to Los Angeles, in 1931.
Photo: © 1931 Los Angeles Times; Digital Colorization by Lee Ruelle / via Vanity Fair.

Delighted to finally discover the United States, the creator first stopped in New York with Misia Sert, where she was welcomed with great pomp. And, on their way back from California, the two friends visited Chicago and San Francisco before returning to New York. The trip lasted one month, and the American press took advantage of the opportunity to try to uncover the secrets of Gabrielle Chanel, the unstoppable businesswoman ahead of her time. From the New York Times to the New York Herald Tribune, not to mention The New Yorker, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, Coco was everywhere and gave countless interviews from her suite at the Pierre Hotel. Each one of her outfits was observed in detail, her pearl necklaces and style drawing much admiration. From then on, in America, CHANEL incarnated French elegance and was synonymous with the fashion to be followed at all costs. At the end of her trip, an article in the June 1931 issue of Vanity Fair praised the designer in their “«We nominate for the Hall of Fame» feature: «Gabrielle Chanel was the first to apply the principles of modernism to dressmaking; because she numbers among her friends the most famous men of France; because she combines a shrewd business sense with enormous personal prodigality and a genuine enthusiasm for arts; and finally because she came to America to make a laudable attempt to introduce chic to Hollywood». The 1939 New York World Fair only confirmed the infatuation: the CHANEL showcases, in crystal and with sculpted heads, presenting objects and accessories that evoked the personality of Mademoiselle Chanel, were among the most admired by 44 million visitors.

CHANEL at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park for the New York World’s Fair. (1939)

Although she travelled to the United States with her friends or photographers like Horst P. Horst, Gabrielle Chanel made her big comeback in 1957. Three years earlier, Mademoiselle Chanel had returned to the world of fashion with a collection that ran totally counter to the style of the time. While Paris gave her the cold shoulder, America heaped her with even more praise. Life magazine gave her an ovation: «At 71, Gabrielle Chanel is creating more than fashion: a revolution» (4). Truman Capote himself referred to her as a «fashion visionary». But how could the land where anything was possible forget when in 1952 Marilyn Monroe made N°5 immortal by declaring she wore nothing but a few drops of the fragrance to bed?

Marilyn Monroe and her Chanel N°5 in 1952


And so 1957. That year, Stanley Marcus organized the first Neiman Marcus Fortnight in Dallas to celebrate the department store’s fiftieth anniversary. Three hundred fashion designers were invited, but only one was welcomed like a star: after arriving by the first foreign aircraft ever to land at the Dallas Love Field airport, Gabrielle Chanel climbed into the only white Rolls Royce in the procession, exclusively reserved for her. Her destination ? The podium on which she was to receive the Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion, thereby declaring her the most influential designer of the 20th century. At her side was Suzy Parker, the first true top model in fashion history. In 1959, the beautiful American star became the face of N°5 featured in a campaign by Richard Avedon, followed by actresses Candice Bergen and Ali McGraw, in 1965 and 1966.

Coco Chanel and Suzy Parker, 1962

The love affair between CHANEL and America grew even stronger through the art world: in 1959, the New York Museum of Modern Art exhibited the packaging of the fragrance bottle as an example of minimalist elegance, which was later reinterpreted by Andy Warhol. The Broadway musical Coco paid tribute to Gabrielle Chanel in 1969 with a run of 300 performances starring Katharine Hepburn in the role of the designer.

«Coco» was Katherine Hepburn’s only musical on Broadway (1969).

A unique, bold and passionate rebel at heart who let nothing stand in her way, an independent, hardworking woman driven by an innate desire for success, Gabrielle Chanel became America’s adopted daughter. A daughter to whom the country paid homage on January 10, 1971: having followed and championed her from the start, the New York Times devoted three front-page columns to her «incalculable» influence on fashion and its evolution (5). Still today, history has proven her right.

The pearl sculpture, designed by Jean-Michel Othoniel, extends down a central staircase within the newly opened CHANEL store on 57th street in New York City. 


Alongside the reopening of the New York boutique on 57th street, CHANEL is celebrating 1957 with a new eau de parfum in the LES EXCLUSIFS DE CHANEL collection. 1957: the year of Gabrielle Chanel’s consecration in America, but also 19, like the day of her birth, and 57, like the street number of the biggest CHANEL store in the United States. A creation that builds an olfactory bridge between France and America, joined by that iconic style. A timeless style, the CHANEL style.

«Her special style is compounded from three ingredients: girlishness, comfort, and a generous helping of pearls. In a country where emphasis is on youth and free and easy living, her designs were bound to succeed». With this definition of the CHANEL allure, the New York Times said it all (6). A modern, avant-garde style that gave women freedom to move. An eternally young and modern allure that broke with the codes of the time and shifted the conventions of chic. An art of living with a simplicity that hides a painstakingly crafted complexity, steeped with a luxury that has no need to flaunt or justify itself.

The third LES EXCLUSIFS DE CHANEL creation composed by perfumer-creator Olivier Polge, in cooperation with the CHANEL Laboratory of Fragrance Creation and Development, 1957 illustrates the mystery of the deceptively simple CHANEL style. A balance of creamy softness, enveloping comfort, and light perfused with discreet power. A fragrance one adopts like a clean skin scent that becomes unique and deeply personal on each wearer. «For each fragrance in the LES EXCLUSIFS DE CHANEL collection, we explore a path we have never taken», explains Olivier Polge. «This time, I opted to work with musk, more specifically white musks. Their whiteness hides a great complexity: enveloping, they emit a more or less pronounced light, and vary in their soft and sensual effects. 1957 is a skin scent that, more than others, is revealed fully on the unique chemistry of each person’s skin».


An assembly of eight white musks, 1957 is structured like a layered composition of transparent, translucent and opaque veils. An immaculate superposition, comfortable and enveloping, soft, almost cushion-like. One can imagine one of Gabrielle Chanel’s beloved pearls, its delicate contours rendered imperceptible by the changing reflections: the matte whiteness of certain musks blends into the iridescent pearl of others. In this interplay of depths, woody, honeyed, spicy and floral vibrations create a luminous, powerful and sensual prominence. Vanilla and honey notes thus slip into the white musks, some with a hint of cedar, others with pink pepper, coriander seed or orange blossom. The faux simplicity of whiteness is revealed and magnified… The precision of an expertly crafted and yet abstract trail, free to enhance the skin by diffusing a distinctive and singular scent.

Coco Chanel presenting her collection in 1957, the year of her comeback.

«1957 also conjures up a certain idea of America», according to Olivier Polge. «An idea that the country has of fragrance and particularly with respect to CHANEL and N°5, which has become a model of olfactory inspiration, even for hairsprays and soaps. But also a concept that the United States introduced: what is referred to as a «sent-bon», (7) a word that speaks to me especially because it was so dear to Gabrielle Chanel. 1957 is a link: it reinterprets American perfumery with the idea the USA has had about French fragrance since N°5 paved the way». The essence of CHANEL is reunited in its trail, filled with comfort and natural elegance, a presence within a chic, refined, personal and unforgettable discretion.

1957 Eau de Parfum Vaporisateur 75 ml CHF 230.-
1957 Eau de Parfum Vaporisateur 200 ml CHF 410.-

LoL, Sandra

Photos if not stated otherwise: © CHANEL

(1) Paul Morand, The Allure of Chanel, ed. Hermann, 1996, p.183.
(2) WWD, July 27, 1914.
(3) Vogue US, September 29, 1928.
(4) Justine Picardie, CHANEL sa vie, Steidl, 2010, p.330.
(5) The New York Times, January 11, 1971.
(6) Linda Simon, Coco Chanel, Reaktion books, Critical Lives collection, London, 2011 p.157.
(7) A pleasant smell.

Interview with Perfume Genius Serge Lutens

Serge Lutems

Meet Serge Lutens, the genius behind the eponymous fragrance and cosmetic label, launched in 2000. Mysterious, captivating, charming, Serge Lutens talks freely and poetically.

His appearance is sylphlike as a dancer, there is something magical about him. He has cast a spell over me after a few seconds.

Serge Lutens et moiSerge Lutens with me

Born 1942 in Lille, France, he started his career as a makeup artist and worked for Vogue along with famous photographers such as Richard Avedon and Irving Penn. Monsieur Lutens, as his assistant addressed him constantly during our interview, established the first cosmetics line for Christian Dior in 1967.

blob-out-6-1962790_0x420Photo: Serge Lutens for Vogue Italia, 1976

His series of photographs that he took in the ’70s were even shown in the Guggenheim Museum. In the ’80s, Shiseido hired him as Creative Director. The famous Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido, conceived and designed by the perfume genius in 1992, are described by him as “more of a refined salon for perfumes than a boutique”.
There you can shop his exclusive line of fragrances.

Lutens1I am a huge fan of his perfumes. Here you see my very own Serge Lutens collection.
Un Bois Vanille is one of my favourites.

We spoke French during the interview and I have to admit that there is something so magical about his French language that any attempt to translate his answers into English almost fails to fully capture their essence. I hope that you will still get to the bottom of his universe.


What would your mother say about you?

This is my son!

Your first memory concerning perfume?

It is not an actual perfume, it is more a culmination of things. At the age of 7, your olfactory sense is completely developed. After that, you only rediscover.

When you go out, how much time do you need to get ready?

20-25 minutes.

What was the topic of your last dinner-table conversation?

This was too long ago that I could remember it.

The last time you had an argument was about…


Your favourite shop?

The bookstore Librairie Galignani, 224 rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris. I shop there every time that I am in Paris.

Your most expensive piece of art?

I am not attached to expensive goods. Art is decoration for the house.

What was the first desire you ever felt?

Never to rest, always to exceed my own expectations.

What do you dislike?

Stupidity, ignorance and misbehaviour.

Most people wouldn’t know you’re a fine…

It is better that they don’t know.

In your suitcase, when travelling, there’s always a…

It is always empty when I am leaving Morocco and when I am coming back, filled to the brim.

Who is for you the most impressive person in history?

It mostly only one part that impresses me, so that I couldn’t name just a single person.

Are you subscribed to a newspaper or magazine?

No. I am changing my preferences too fast.

You would like to be really good at…

There is nothing I could think of. I could say that I would like to be a great dancer or singer, but that wouldn’t make any sense. I was just not born under that star.

You live in Morocco. How does it smell?

The scents of Morocco inspired me to do perfumes. It was no choice. Now, I don’t use those ones so much anymore.

Do you have  a favourite ingredient?

I will always use classic and natural ingredients. But I don’t have one favourite. Would you ask a  poet which ones are his favourite words? It is similiar. The ingredients are like senses, they will tell you something. You just have to translate. It is like a composition.

Now you have changed your way of perfume. The new L’Eau Froide smells fresh and is along with your first L’Eau from 2010 completely different from your other previous creations. Why?

Yes, you are right. It is a wonder of pureness. A shock. It is the essence of my life.

Some journalists called L’Eau de Serge an anti-perfume. Does it bother you if people analyze and judge your creations?

No, not at all. It is not mine anymore. It is over. I created it, but once it is done, it doesn’t belong to me anymore.

Do you have somebody or something in mind when creating a perfume?

I always think of something. The creation is passive, not active. You are in there. It is like a passion. It takes you on a journey, you have no choice. The real partner is the perfume. It lives and gives you the answer. You are at its demand. You have to forget the „you“.

Do you listen to music when you create?

No, those are two different things. When I am listening to music, I am listening to music! I am in it, that is unique.

Music is so important. But I hate this overdose in our days. Music is everywhere, in the restaurant, in the elevator. It kills all the senses. The same applies to perfumes. If you walk through a big department store, it is horrible.

Do you wear perfume?

Not very often. If I do, it is to set a statement. When I go out, I like to use it. But I rarely go out anymore.

The best perfume of all times?

Always the one, that I am working on. It is as it is supposed to be and loving it is just the natural consequence.

The most important beauty product a woman has to have?

Self-confidence. This is what she brings to the table. This is her. Beauty is the moment, when you are really yourself!

It is not about beautiful eyes or a beautiful mouth. Of course, those features help but there are beautiful people who are dreadful and there are not so beautiful people that can be very pretty. It is the charm that counts.

How much power do women have?

The power of persuasion and creativity. Everything creative is female.

You worked with Richard Avendon, Irving Penn. How were they? How was it to work with those famous people?

The had passion, they loved their work. They were not professionals. Professionals are boring. I worked with many considerable people, such as David Bailey, Helmut Newton among many others. All they had in common was, that they were not professionals, they were amateurs.

What does confuse you about people from your industry (cosmetics/fragrance)?

People that would like to be professionals. As I said, I only like amateurs.

Do you have a favourite city?

The city where I am in that moment. My brain is my room. I could live tomorrow in Geneva or somewhere else. I don’t care, what I need, I have on me. I just need my little book to take notes and that is it. Life would be the same.

You have done many different things in your life, photography, filmmaking, hair styling, perfumery among others. Do you have a favourite phase?

No. Each time, it is the same, just in another way.

One wish from the fairy?

That she turns my pumpkin into a carriage.

Thank you very much, Monsieur Lutens! It was such an honour to meet you!

LutensL’Eau Froide, the newest creation of Serge Lutens, is in stores now, 50ml (CHF 108.-) and 100ml (CHF158.-).
Fresh and crystalline
Composition: Somali incense, musk and aquatic note.

LoL, Sandra

Photos: Courtesy of Serge Lutens, Vogue Italia and © Sandra Bauknecht

Sylvester Stallone – 35 Years of Painting

Sylvester Stallone Painting

„Every time you look at a great painting, you’ve literally took a piece of the artist’s soul.“
– Sylvester Stallone

Sly and me

Sylvester Stallone with me in front of his artwork "Best of Life", 1989, which is my absolute favourite, a collage of fan letters.

This morning, I attended a very interesting opening at the well-known Galerie Gmurzynska in St. Moritz in the presence of the artist himself: Sylvester Stallone 35 Years of Painting. In case that you are wondering, I am talking about the “Stallone”, the “Rambo”.

The exhibition is a retrospective of his work. About 30 pictures will be presented, documenting different periods of Sly’s creative work.

The  famous actor has started painting in his teens. His early pieces, which he signed “Mike Stallone”, were experimental. Due to financial reasons he then worked as an author until he started a career as an actor. In 1976 he made his breakthrough as “Rocky”, started painting again and continued to do so until today. During the seventies and eighties, Stallone’s art was very expressive and morbid. Amongst others, his paintings were influenced by the death of his manager  to handle the stroke of fate. The work he made during this period was graphic, flat, often brightly coloured and still quite illlustrative.

"Finding Rocky", Mixed media and artists frame, 1975

"Finding Rocky", Mixed media and artists frame, 1975

A change in his style began 1989/1990. He got deeper into art, studied closely contemporary art and painters like Picasso, Gerhard Richter and Anselm Kiefer. He looked into abstract work of Mark Rotho and developed a unique style for himself: He produced expressive, profound and expressionistic works, sometimes modified self portraits, sometimes pictures playing with words.
Smooth strokes instead of hard blows…


"Best of Life", Mixed media and artists frame, 1989

"Best of Life", Mixed media and artists frame, 1989

"Best of Life", Details

Donald Kuspit, one of America’s most renowed art scholars, wrote an essay about Stallone’s art in which he states that Stallone is no longer acting or pretending when he is painting, but honestly and openly himself. He is no longer Rambo , the straight-shooter who never misses, or Rocky, an everyday guy who made it, but in search of his missing self – the self he may have lost when he played those proud creations. His paintings are more emotionally realistic than his unrealistic heroes.

"Never Ever Land", Mixed media and artists frame, 2010

"Never Ever Land", Mixed media and artists frame, 2010

Stallone told Donald Kuspit that the cutting of the frames symbolizes the cutting of frames and scenes from his movies by various editors. It upset him greatly, which is one reason he does not completely frame nor edit his paintings –does not hem them in.

"Hercules O'Clock", Mixed media and artists frame, 1991

"Hercules O'Clock", Mixed media and artists frame, 1991

The artworks will be exposed at Galerie Gmurzynska in St. Moritz from February 19th until March 15th. Subsequent to the show in Switzerland, Stallone’s art will be exhibited at the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg. The prices for Stallone’s artworks are approximately between $50.000-$150.000.


Photo: Richard Avedon

Stallone is a very impressive and expressive man with a voice that is truly to die for. The father of five children will turn 65 in July and is said to have an IQ of 141.

He was very sweet and answered the question if he could imagine to start painting with Arnold Schwarzenegger like this: „Wouldn’t that be something?! Arnold paints, too but he is not showing his artwork to the public. I painted once with my wife, but this was already complicated enough…”.

In 1995, he modeled for Gianni Versace to promote his new home collection. The photos were taken by Richard Avedon and I still love that one of Claudia Schiffer and Sly both stripped down.

A little trip down fashion memory lane…

LoL, Sandra

Photos: ©Sandra Bauknecht