MILAN — Chanel is making a statement in Milan’s Via Montenapoleone with its new fashion, watches and fine jewelry boutique, the brand’s first twin store in Italy. It covers 5,616 square feet over three floors and was designed by the brand’s longtime collaborator Peter Marino.
Chanel opened its first Milan location on nearby Via Sant’Andrea 40 years ago and the brand has always had a special relationship with Italy, determined by the attachment Gabrielle Chanel herself had to the country, said Frédéric Grangié, president of Chanel’s watches and fine jewelry division since 2016. “Especially when, after the death of Boy Capel [Arthur Edward Capel, the designer’s lover and muse] she was convinced by her friend [musician] Misia Sert to go to Venice for a new beginning.”
Grangié, who before joining Chanel was chief executive officer of Louis Vuitton in Japan, said in addition to a “strong desire to treat our local clientele for its consistent support and enthusiasm over the years,” the company’s decision to open a new boutique in the heart of Milan “has been all the more motivated as the moment is ripe in terms of market dynamics. In recent years, the WFJ [watches and fine jewelry] Italian market has undergone significant changes, as evidenced by the upward investment trend in the country by some of our international competitors. This is why it is crucial to set up a powerful foothold in the country through the opening of the Montenapoleone WFJ boutique in Milan to develop the brand awareness and desirability of our WFJ creations to cultivate and grow our clientele.”
Via Montenapoleone itself is going through a major revamp, with the Gucci store opening planned for Dec. 7 after extensive renovation works that lasted more than 16 months; Ferragamo’s new store concept will be unveiled early next year, and Louis Vuitton’s long-standing flagship is being renovated on the street’s stately Palazzo Taverna, where a Tiffany unit is also expected to open. As reported, Via Montenapoleone, together with Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, has been ranked as the world’s most expensive retail street this year, with rents of $1,766 and $2,000 a square foot, respectively, according to the 2023 version of Cushman & Wakefield’s annual report “Main Streets Across the World.”
The Chanel boutique, which opened to the public on Nov. 25, has two entrances: the main one on via Montenapoleone and a separate entrance for VIC customers on Via Verri.
Watches and fine jewelry are positioned on the ground floor with jewelry collections ranging from the Coco Crush to the Camelia, together with pieces from the No.5 high jewelry line. Among those pieces is the 55.55 necklace, set with a unique 55.55-carat D-FL Type IIa custom-cut diamond, which is not for sale but is a permanent part of Chanel’s high jewelry heritage. It is being exceptionally presented on the occasion of the opening. Watch collections include the J12, the Première, the Boy·Friend and the Code Coco.
Rock crystal and gilded metal ceiling lights by Goossens, sleek glass and metal consoles contribute to an Art Deco feel, enhanced by Chanel’s signature graphic black and white palette warmed up by pops of gold with an antique effect.
“The watches and fine jewelry division is a key division for Chanel alongside fashion and fragrance and beauty. Italy is an important market for Chanel, especially because of its sophisticated understanding of fashion, WFJ and luxury which is an inherent part of its culture, as in France. The house’s business in Italy is strong since the local clientele is renowned for being connoisseurs and great collectors. Historically there has always been a true appetite and tradition about such categories and Italy ranks among the 10 top watches markets in the world,” said Grangié.
Grangié pointed out that Chanel is increasingly opening twin boutiques in the relevant locations with the aim of offering a one-house brand experience to its clients.
There are now a total of 58 WFJ boutiques worldwide, including Milan, and they are either WFJ stand-alone boutiques or shared with fashion.
“Italy is in itself a worldwide symbol of culture, savoir-faire, style and fashion, values that are dear to our house,” remarked Grangié. “Milan has gained a very special place as a global shopping destination and it is one of the top cities for luxury. It was imperative to position ourselves at the very heart of the Milanese luxury ecosystem. Not only does the Quadrilatero de la Moda [streets around Via Montenapoleone, Via Spiga and Via Sant’Andrea] offer a robust ecosystem characterized by international and historical local brands, but it also allows our maison to communicate and reach our clientele more directly, which will be crucial to develop the brand awareness and desirability of WFJ products at Chanel in Italy.”
Asked about the strategy going forward for the WFJ division, Grangié said, “We believe in creativity, which Chanel has become a byword for. So continuing to put savoir-faire at the service of creation above all.”
Several Chanel items have become international bestsellers “in a very short period of time. From Première, our first watch created in 1987, to J12 created in 2000, to Coco Crush launched in 2015,” observed Grangié. However, while seeing strong growth of its No.5 fine jewelry collection and the strong performance of its watches, the executive acknowledged”that’s a great pride for us to be so young on the scale of the time but [also] to be part of the greatest WFJ names.”