In the middle of the ritziest quarter of Tokyo an incredible architectural project is the wonderful frame for one of the most important flagship store of a luxury brand such as Chanel. The sophisticated modernity of Ginza and the boundless creativity of the architect Peter Marino blended with the preciousness and the elegance of the label of Karl Lagerfeld created an unforgettable shopping experience in which even the most little detail is fully soaked of the brand essence.
If you are interested in fashion Tokyo is a must and the quarter called Ginza, located in the heart of the city, is surely one of the foremost places to visit. During the last two centuries this area was rebuild 3 times: once, after the Huge Fire in 1827, than after the Great Kanto Earthquake, in 1923, and the last time, in 1945, after the World War II, when, for the 3rd time, most of Ginza was destroyed.
Nowadays, in this elegant and modern area near to the Palace of the emperor, a lot of flagship stores of the most important luxury brands of the world (Western and Japanese) can be found, concentrated around the main avenue, Chuo Dori. You just have to get off the metro at Ginza station and you will literally start to breathe fashion. Everywhere.
Taking a look at the panel of the metro information to find the right door to get out you will also read Gucci Palace signalled in correspondence with one of the exits. Before your arrival at the surface you will pass by an aisle in which there are a lot of shop window of Matsuya Ginza, a huge department store that with his pearl white exterior illuminated with LED lights in 16.7 million colours, symbolizing the policy of this quarter of pursuing "sophisticated design". When you will arrive at the last step of the stairs of the exit your sight will be hit by a lot of lights and colours. The neon signs of the shops with big letters and giant posters will bring you to another world, a parallel universe made of hedonism, richness, quality and beauty.
When you reach the moment in which you can’t say nothing but “wow” you will see it: Chanel’s Palace at Ginza. Just in the middle of Chuo Dori, an incredible, magic, stunning, dreamy vision which draws you to the essence of the opulence and the sophistication of Chanel’s imagery. This is the Tokyo Chanel headquarter and it was build in 2004 by the famous architect Peter Marino with the collaboration of Associates Architects and Matthew Tanteri, principal of New York’s Tanteri + Associates. The result of the work of Marino’s team is a 10-floor palace of glass, 56-meter high, with 1300 square meters of shopping space, offices, a concert wall, an art space for exhibitions, a restaurant by Alain Ducasse - not just a good chef, but one of the best chef all over the world, owner of 27 luxury restaurants and hotels and winner of 19 Michelin stars – and a rooftop garden.
The project for the Chanel building is a perfect ode to the concept of the best branding, a superlative way to communicate the values of a brand. The façade was conceived as a means of expression, a sort of media, which has to show some of the most iconic references of Chanel, such as the tweed, the logo and the Camelia flower. The façade is composed by a curtain wall of glass that encapsulates a nest-shaped block of aluminium in Chanel handbags’ signature tweed pattern. The glass front illuminates Ginza every day from sunset to dawn with 700,000 embedded white LED lights. During the day, the glass turns transparent, allowing the office workers a clear view of the world all around; at night it changes to translucent, making the building surfaces the world’s largest black and white video wall.
The magnificence of the exterior continues in the interior of the building, and you just go ahead astonished by the beauty and the attention to the details. At the ground floor the shop windows show the Spring Ready to Wear collection 2013. In the background a wall of black and white photographs with images of the making-off of the fashion film Public Garden, by Karl Lagerfeld, the video campaign for the collection. Between some of the pictures there are several monitors, which show the entire film. After spending almost twenty minutes watching the shop windows you are ready to enter in the palace, and you still don’t know it, but you are starting a unique experience. There are no words to explain the professionalism and the dedication of Japanese clerks and their extreme courtesy treating with the clients. They will ask you to touch, to take a careful look at the details, to watch closely the preciousness of the materials and the refinement of the design. If you do have the time of take a look at the catalogue of the new collection you can sit on one of the wonderful gold brocade sofas of the boutique. They will bring you hot green tea or whatever you want to drink and they will ask you carefully about what are looking for, which garments are you used to wear, which colours and fabrics, in this way they are sure they will know perfectly your requirements.
All the time your sight is continually captured by accurate details that communicate the essence, the spirits of the brand. Wonderful art pieces complete the perfection of the sensorial experience giving the palace an additional touch of sophistication and subtle references to the icons of Chanel imagery are spread in the different floors of the palace: black and white traditional Japanese ink paintings which represents Camelias, sculptures with the petals of this flower, reproductions of the photographs of the brand ad campaign with Saskia de Brau and Cara Delenvigne, brocade carpets. You can try to find a lot of adjective to describe this experience, dreamy, unforgettable, extraordinary, ethereal…or you can use just a noun: Chanel.