French luxury brand Chanel has relocated its downtown Calgary boutique in The CORE to a new ground floor space with street-front access. The impressive concession within the multi-brand Holt Renfrew store is one of only six Chanel boutiques in Canada carrying the brand’s full collection.
The new 2,900-square-foot Chanel boutique features a distinct Chanel-branded facade facing onto 4th Street SW. A vestibule at 7 Avenue SW greets visitors with a piece of artwork by Margaret Evangeline which depicts the camellia flower that was a favourite of brand founder Coco Chanel. Window panels with a linear banded pattern frame the interior entry space which includes a doorway directly into the Chanel boutique.
Included in the boutique is Chanel’s women’s ready-to-wear, handbags, small leather goods and accessories, eyewear, jewellery (including costume jewellery as well as fine jewellery and watches), and footwear. The boutique is divided into several spaces housing different categories.
The first accessory salon area features handbags, small leather goods, watches and jewellery. Notable handbags and small leather good styles include seasonal interpretations of the new Chanel 19 handbag, BOY CHANEL and CHANEL’s GABRIELLE, not to mention iconic Chanel handbag styles such as the 2.55 and 11.12. The same accessory salon features watches and fine jewellery including pieces from the ‘Coco Crush’ collection as well as popular watch styles such as the J12, BOY∙FRIEND, and CODE COCO.
A second adjacent accessory salon carries an expansive selection of Chanel costume jewellery as well as eyewear and accessories such as hats/headwear, belts, scarves, and camellias including broaches.
The boutique’s separate ready-to-wear salon has a “private and intimate feel” according to Chanel. The design of the salon is inspired by Coco Chanel’s apartment at 31 rue Cambon in Paris and a range of clothing is contained within. Two dressing rooms feature artwork by Peter Dayton and Shelter Serra. The south side of the salon includes a range of footwear including Chanel’s iconic two-tone pump that is modified each season with styles including ballerina flats, sneakers and high-heel styles.
The Calgary Chanel boutique was designed by Peter Marino, a notable architect who has designed some of the world’s finest retail spaces. The Calgary Chanel boutique features a range of matte white finishes that contrast with black and ivory lacquer furnishings as well as bronze and gold accents.
The Chanel spring-summer 2020 collection is showcased in the new Calgary boutique. That includes clothing and accessories by Chanel designer Virginie Viard — she took over from Karl Lagerfeld who passed away in February of 2019. Chanel describes its latest fashion collection as being “feminine, urban and in motion, with a silhouette that is fluid and light” that “takes inspiration from the rooftops of Paris and the atmosphere of the Nouvelle Vague”.
The new Chanel space replaces a Louis Vuitton concession that relocated to Calgary’s CF Chinook Centre in October of 2018 — Louis Vuitton grew from about 2,000 square feet at Holt Renfrew to nearly 4,500 square feet at CF Chinook. The 49,000-square-foot ground floor of Holt Renfrew in Calgary includes several luxury boutiques. Next to Chanel is a Gucci accessory boutique as well as accessory shops for Prada, Celine, Miu Miu, and Burberry. Other main floor boutiques carrying a range of ready-to-wear clothing include Hermes and Loro Piana. The street level also includes a 6,000-square-foot women’s footwear department with a Roger Vivier section, a jewellery department with a Tiffany & Co. boutique, as well as a beauty hall facing onto 8 Avenue SW.
Chanel has had a boutique presence in Calgary for over two decades. In March of 1998, Chanel opened at a considerably smaller Holt Renfrew boutique in downtown Calgary which included a gala event to mark its debut. That Chanel boutique spanned about 825 square feet and was located on the second level of the Holt Renfrew store. The Chanel opening coincided with an expansion of the Holt Renfrew store, which added a third floor spanning more than 10,000 square feet to grow its contemporary brands — prior to the expansion, the two retail levels at Holt Renfrew in Calgary measured only about 27,000 square feet.
When Holt Renfrew relocated across the street in 2009 into an impressive 150,000-square-foot building formerly occupied by Eaton’s, Chanel opened a 1,500-square-foot boutique alongside other luxury brands such as Akris, Prada, and Gucci. Calgary is the only city in Alberta to boast having its own Chanel boutique — and while Edmonton will see several more luxury brands open at West Edmonton Mall, the city lost its Holt Renfrew store when it closed in January of this year.
When Chanel opened in Calgary in 1998, the company’s then head of public relations Anny Kananjian told the Calgary Herald that Chanel had chosen Calgary because of its “booming economy” along with the fact that the city had the second highest number of corporate head offices in Canada after Toronto. “There’s a lot of disposable income in Calgary,” she said at the time.
Chanel operates six boutiques in Canada as well as one standalone beauty boutique. In Vancouver, Chanel operates a 5,000-square foot-street level concession at Holt Renfrew, which a couple of years ago was said to be doing astronomically high sales numbers. In Toronto, Chanel operates three fashion boutiques and one beauty boutique. That includes a standalone 8,700-square-foot flagship store at 98 Yorkville Avenue, a 1,850-square-foot boutique nearby at Holt Renfrew on Bloor Street, and a 3,500-square-foot boutique at Holt Renfrew in the Yorkdale Shopping Centre.
Last year, Chanel opened a 1,280-square-foot beauty boutique at the Holt Renfrew Centre in Toronto adjacent to the concourse level Holt Renfrew beauty hall. In the nearly completed Holt Renfrew Ogilvy store in Montreal, Chanel unveiled an impressive bi-level 3,300 square foot street-level boutique near the entrance to the adjacent Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences.
Despite the downturn in oil prices and recent challenges including COVID-19, Calgary is home to some very wealthy households. A former buyer at Holt Renfrew explained that many of Calgary’s wealthy were shopping elsewhere for high-end fashions, particularly Vancouver and Las Vegas. Given restricted travel at this time, some affluent women in Calgary and in other parts of Alberta are more likely to make the trip to the new downtown Calgary boutique to get their Chanel fix — and they’ll have to do it in the store as Chanel does not sell online.
That has resulted in a significant sales hit for Chanel recently, which closed its boutiques globally during the COVID-19 shutdown. In 2019, Chanel’s global sales were said to have surpassed US $12-billion and the brand’s 2020 sales are expected to be considerably less because of the shutdowns.