Pathport x Les Eaux de Chanel
To celebrate the launch of Les Eaux de Chanel (“Paris-Riviera”, “Paris-Deauville”, “Paris-Biarritz”, “Paris-Venise”), Pathport collaborated with Chanel to create an exclusive series of four travel diaries, inspired by the summer destinations of Gabrielle Chanel. Photography by Camila Gutiérrez.
The mere mention of its name conjures up images of a coastline winding its way between the Alps and the Mediterranean. Bringing the promise of azure blue and dancing sunlight, the Riviera evokes an enveloping softness and the lazy days of summer. Gabrielle Chanel began sojourning on the Riviera in 1920. She loved driving to Monaco with the Grand Duke Dimitri or travelling south on the Train Bleu, a means of transport made famous by Serge de Diaghilev who wrote a ballet by the same name and entrusted the costume design to Mademoiselle Chanel. She could often be found on the Côte d’Azur during the Roaring Twenties, one day on the Duke of Westminster’s yacht in Monte Carlo, another at her regular haunt, the Hôtel de Paris in Monaco, or at the Société des Bains de Mer resort known for its legendary parties. Gabrielle Chanel also frequented Cannes, where she opened a boutique, and joined the painters and writers who flocked to Saint-Tropez, which was but a fishing port at the time. But a little to the East, on the heights of Roquebrune, is where she chose to point her compass and have her villa “ La Pausa ” built. Mademoiselle oversaw every last architectural detail, and had olive groves and fields of lavender planted. She made it her permanent vacation home, where she entertained a number of celebrities such as Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dalí. There in her beloved southern France, Gabrielle Chanel wove a tapestry of moments suspended in time and joyful memories…
“The dream Côte d’Azur of the 1920s is what guided the development of this new fragrance. A sun-filled Eden that was a magnet for artists. The flawless architecture of the villas in those days. The bright and happy atmosphere of party nights…”
This is where it all began. In the spring of 1912, a seaside resort on the Normandy coast caught the attention of the young milliner Gabrielle Chanel. Deauville was already the destination of choice for Parisians on the weekend. The ideal location to sell her first creations that broke with the stylistic codes of the time. In 1913, with the help and financial assistance of businessman and polo player Boy Capel, Gabrielle launched her first collection in her shop with a white awning that set off her name written in black capital letters: GABRIELLE CHANEL. A declaration of minimalism that would accompany the revolution she was about to start. While women’s bodies were still restricted in stifling corsets, she allowed herself to go horseback riding wearing an open-neck blouse, and infused her first designs with unprecedented comfort. Her shop on rue Gontaut-Biron, a chic street in Deauville, featured clothing that borrowed from sailors, stripes, beige and jersey fabric. A profusion of ideas that mapped the contours of what has become an iconic style. Keeping a step ahead of her time, Gabrielle Chanel imposed a natural, obvious simplicity. The shop closed in 1925, but Deauville remains enshrined in the heritage of the House.
“I wasn’t striving to capture the Normandy countryside as it stands today, but rather the promise of a stroll through the tall grasses.”
In 1915, only two years after the launch of her first clothing designs in Deauville, Gabrielle Chanel inaugurated a new space in Biarritz. The Basque coast resort town has been a High Society a holiday destination since the 19th century. Taking advantage of the society life and tourism draw of Biarritz, the visionary chose the Villa de Larralde as her store location, next to the Casino, the luxury hotels and the beach. Gabrielle brought her Parisian employees to work in her shop with all the ultra-modern comforts and garnered the attention of Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain, who became a loyal customer of the boutique-villa. Biarritz became the ultimate sports vacation destination, just a stone’s throw from the golf courses of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, with picnics on the beach in the company of Boy Capel, invigorating swims in the Atlantic Ocean, and endless parties with her Russian friends exiled in France following the October Revolution of 1917. Still today, as in the past, all eyes in Biarritz and along the Basque coast are riveted by the power of the ocean. Now overrun with surfers and extreme sports enthusiasts, the southwestern resort has always known how to blend a certain sporty spirit with a rare elegance.
“I wanted to create a sensation on the skin as if each ingredient were soaked in water”
In 1920, Mademoiselle was inconsolable. To erase the memory of Boy Capel who died tragically in a car accident in December 1919, Misia and the painter José Maria Sert invited her to Venice. Not only did Gabrielle Chanel light upon a city on the borders of European and Eastern culture, Venice also rekindled her desire to live. Her discovery of Venetian artists and the unforgettable parties thrown by cosmopolitan aristocrats who spent their days basking in the sun on the Lido beaches helped Gabrielle forge her inimitable style. That of a woman who dared to warm her face in the sun, wear pajamas in broad daylight and don sandals with a cork sole. With her friend Misia, she made the acquaintance of Paul Morand and Sergei Diaghilev, creator of the Ballets Russes. Venice is where she drank in the glimmer of the mosaics, the shining hammered gold and precious gems of St Mark’s Basilica, which inspired the design of her first jewelry collections. Venice was more than just a seasonal jaunt. For Gabrielle Chanel, Venice was a restorative, inspirational whirlwind that reignited her creative spark. A unique city that nourished her wonderment.
“I wanted people to smell that gateway to the Orient, which, at CHANEL, is also an evocation of the baroque. It is probably the most urban Eau of the three.”
These four travel guides are offered to you by Les Eaux de Chanel