Chanel: grande dame of fashion for over a century, famed for its heritage and haute couture crafting. Not, perhaps, the first brand that springs to mind for an interactive Covent Garden pop-up, hosting a lively summer programme of activities and cheap manicures. However, Chanel's cosmetics offering has always had a playful side – witness the glorious recent viral created by the brand to celebrate its new nail varnish collection (finger models can-canning across a paper theatre set). And its beauty product range is unequivocally, joyously fashion forward, right down to the kooky new nail colours, from mint green to gunmetal grey. So an inventive make-up pop-up is not wholly out of creative character.
While not everyone is at ease strolling into a Chanel fashion boutique, the make-up store is designed to be a fun, accessible and fully immersive experience. Not only has imaginative creative director Peter Philips (the Raf Simons of slap) designed exclusive studio products for the project – including 'London' and 'Covent Garden' make-up looks – the brand has devised a constant stream of fun events lined up right until December. Nail art chieftains Marian Newman and Sophy Robson will be coming up with avant-garde catwalk creations with a large dose of subcultural inspiration, running workshops offering quirky on-brand activities (such as a camellia drawing class, inspired by Chanel's signature bloom). And pretty much every big name in make-up and nails is expected to give masterclasses (£25, redeemable against product) with the likes of Kay Montano,
Florrie White, Mary Greenwell, Lisa Eldridge, and Sharon Dowsett hosting in-store sessions. As well as the UK's first Chanel nail bar, where customers can book in for mani-pedis at £25 (redeemable against product), there will be a recreation of a backstage catwalk set-up, a flower stall linking with all the Chanel fragrances and, in autumn, a vending machine for nail polishes. It's a thoroughly modern, playful, non-intimidating retail experience; a world away from those counters of old, whose immaculately made-up saleswomen were enough to frighten you back to Boots. Montano believes it will give customers a little taste of the kind of glamour you get at a fashion show: 'What it offers the customer is inspiration. An idea of what goes on behind the scenes as make-up and nail artists get to work, chatting and trying things out; combining the exclusivity and chic of the brand with a fun and informal atmosphere.'