NEW YORK Chanel left no detail overlooked when, on Thursday, the first day of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, the French fashion house marked the reopening of its Peter Marino-redesigned SoHo store with a two-part event meant to capture the vibe of the boutique’s downtown locale. Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld held court, drawing the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, Blake Lively, Diane Kruger, Claire Danes, and Rachel Bilson to a 500-person cocktail party and an intimate dinner that followed at 82 Mercer Street.
As Chanel was celebrating, in fact, two things—the new store as well as Lagerfeld’s fall campaign, shot on the nearby streets—KCD senior vice president of production Keith Baptista and vice president of production Tobi Armstrong worked with Rebekah McCabe, Chanel’s senior vice president of public relations, and her associate, Arianne Gold, to take full advantage of the new 4,200-square-foot boutique and incorporate visual and interactive elements.
To leave most of the store free of additional decor elements, the production team erected two black tents at the corner of Wooster and Spring streets. “We had to find a way to install this structure in a very busy area of SoHo,” said Baptista, noting the uneven cobblestone streets and heavy pedestrian traffic flow. “We presented several plans to the mayor’s special events office until the city was satisfied that the project did not majorly impede normal activities in the neighborhood.”
The interior of the wall of the temporary fabrication was a digital interactive graffiti space where guests were invited to tag, or write messages, on a series of oversize screens, using paint cans that interacted with the screens. Graffiti artists were also on hand to work with guests and create original artwork. The exterior face of the structure held an LED wall, built as a gradation, where campaign images Lagerfeld took were displayed using a sequence created by United Visual Artists in London.
It was just as important to the organizers that the store’s interior not be altered in any way, since its redesign was the focus of the party, so only a DJ booth—from which Alexa Chung spun tunes—was installed. “The store was Peter’s work, and white and modern, so we wanted to leave this untouched,” said Baptista. “The exterior was black and technology-based.” The basic shell of the structure, along with the working LED graffiti walls and bench seating, were kept in operation the next day when the store officially opened to the public during Fashion’s Night Out.
Following the cocktail event, Lagerfeld hosted a dinner and after-party in the basement at nearby 82 Mercer Street (a venue that was formerly the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex), transforming it into what the brand dubbed the “Chanel SoHo Club.” The space, comprised of a center stage surrounded by banquettes, featured low lighting for ambience and live music by French singer Izia and British rocker Kele, followed by tunes spun by the Misshapes. Dinner, which included oysters, chicken potpies, macaroni and cheese, and charcuterie platters, was served in a four-stage prix fixe service that made it easy for guests to move from table to table.