From Paris to Shanghai: Chanel exhibit coming to China

Wednesday 27 October 2010 02:45

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) in Shanghai will hold an exhibition during winter 2011 on Chanel, the iconic haute couture label. Titled Culture Chanel, it will trace the many inspirations behind the designs of the French house. It's the latest move by a luxury label to expand its presence in the cosmopolitan Chinese city.

Women's Wear Daily reported that the exhibit is set to run January 15 through March 14. Some 400 items, including clothing, artwork, films and manuscripts, were amassed with the help of Chanel for the event. The exhibit will be curated by Jean-Louis Froment, a French art director and critic.

The exhibit is not chronological, but it spans the history of Chanel from its origins under the artistic direction of founder Gabrielle Chanel to present day. A key aspect of Culture Chanel is about Gabrielle's rapports with artists of her heyday since she was a fixture among Parisian literary and artistic circles. She counted Jean Cocteau and Pablo Picasso among her friends and composer Igor Stravinsky among her lovers.

MoCA is no stranger to fashion-oriented displays. In 2008, it organized the exhibit "Salvatore Ferragamo's Evolving Legend 1928-2008," in honor of the 80th anniversary of the Italian fashion house.

In recent years, "The Paris of the East" has been become a hot destination for luxury labels looking to expand their business eastward. In November 2009, to commemorate the opening of a Chanel boutique at the Peninsula Hotel in Shanghai, Chanel launched a website devoted exclusively to happenings in Shanghai. And this past May, to mark the grand reopening of the Christian Dior boutique at the Shanghai Plaza, the French luxury brand rolled out a limited-edition Dior Blue collection that was sold exclusively at the Shanghai store.

But it's French luxury house Hermès that has invested the most heavily in Shanghai. This past September, it opened its first boutique in the city for its new clothing and lifestyle brand Shang Xia. The Chinese sub-label, which means "Up Down" in Mandarin, "aims to boost what [Hermès CEO Patrick] Thomas told AFP was 'very strong growth' in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan - collectively now Hermès' 'principal market.'"

Business-wise, it makes a lot of sense. Sales of luxury goods in mainland China reached nearly 8.6 billion dollars in 2008, according to consultancy Bain and Company. And Chinese tourists' purchases abroad bring the total market worth to 20 billion dollars. What's more, consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers predicts China to become the world's top buyer of luxury goods by 2015.

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