When I was 6 years old in the early seventies, I went to Paris with my mother, who loved glamorous clothes. My father came on these trips as well, and as soon he left us to our own devices, we wasted no time in heading to Chanel on rue Cambon so my mother could find her favourite pieces to take back to Caracas – usually a jacket and a dress.
Upon entering the shop, the young me was instantly taken aback, mesmerized by the aesthetic: black and white with gold accents, distinguished and chic in every sense of the word. “I want to live here” I all too earnestly said. My mother gave me a quizzical look. “Carmen, this is a store.” “I want to live here”, I repeated, “I want a house like this.” My mother must have thought I was being slow and just ignored my declarations about the shop.
"Upon entering the shop, the young me was instantly taken back, mesmerized by the aesthetic..."
Years later at 22, I got my home that looked like the Chanel shop on rue Cambon. I modelled my store Cabus in Caracas after the rue Cambon shop in a black-and-white scheme.
In fact, a monochrome palette has become synonymous with high fashion – permeating all the way down to e-commerce, such as Net-A-Porter’s storefront. Founder Natalie Massanet (my long-time friend and business partner) was also inspired by Chanel as her mother modelled for the house.
Today, like every dedicated follower of fashion, I still love to visit the shop that brought me so much inspiration. I am always intrigued by the story behind the fifth step of the mirrored stairwell - it allowed Coco Chanel the perfect spot from which to view the raw reactions of her clients and the press to her collections without anyone seeing her. This design detail says so much about the personality of this legendary woman.
I also pick up a few pieces from the collection so that if the mood strikes, I can live in Chanel - wherever I may be.