Many years ago when my lovely, always beautifully dressed paternal grandmother passed away, my cousin and I—her only granddaughters—sat at a kitchen counter with our mothers to divide up her treasured accessories. There were antique rings, Art Deco bracelets and perfectly preserved purses, so well kept it was as if my grandmother hadn’t carried them as often as I knew she had. The pieces de resistance were two Chanel bags. I chose a hunter green suede shoulder bag with a gold chain strap, while my cousin opted for a brown leather satchel. It was the first designer purse I would ever come to own, and because my grandmother had taken such good care of it, it looked like it had just been purchased. My mother, thoughtfully admiring my new bag, said, “It’s sometimes important to buy nice things so they can be passed down in this way. Now, whenever you carry this, you will think of your grandma.”
She was right. That moment and that hunter green bag changed my perspective on “luxury” shopping and on investment pieces like a Chanel bag. Sometimes they aren’t just expensive indulgences; sometimes they are legacy heirlooms that can be passed down through generations, just as my grandmother’s precious pieces were.
I thought again about that first Chanel bag I was lucky enough to have when the French house decided to open an ephemeral boutique on the Cooper Avenue Mall this winter. Sure, Aspen’s high-end clientele seamlessly mesh with Chanel’s desired audience, but this temporary store and the collection it would come to house were about something more than that. They were about Chanel’s late, legendary designer Karl Lagerfeld’s legacy. Lagerfeld passed away from cancer last February, stunning the fashion world that so regarded and respected him (he was, after all, the creative director of Chanel and Fendi simultaneously). But his last collection, which came down the Paris runway a month after his passing, was something Aspenites—fashion savvy or not—would appreciate.
Lagerfeld’s final designs paid homage to all things alpine chic, encapsulating in every piece how absolutely glorious cold-weather dressing can be (something those who live in Aspen or visit it frequently know all too well). The fashion show’s venue, Paris’ Grand Palais, was turned into a ski town in the Alps for the occasion, complete with a runway covered in fake snow and framed on all sides by European chalets. The looks that made their way down the catwalk included chiffon skirts with tiny skiers printed on them, chunky sweaters, houndstooth tweeds and shearling accessories in the form of bags and shoes. One look at the collection and there was no question it would have to find its way to Aspen, the country’s most undeniably chic and cosmopolitan mountain town.
And so it would, in the form of a beautiful, airy pop-up on the Cooper Avenue walking mall. Sure, it’s one more luxury store in a town already littered with them, but before you walk past and assume you can’t afford anything inside, perhaps take a moment to walk through the thoughtfully curated space. Even if you’re not in the market for a high-price designer item, you may still enjoy looking around. After all, you won’t just be looking at designer clothes, you will be admiring Lagerfeld’s creative genius. Clearly he—just like many of us—loved winter and all the promise it holds, both for sport and for fashion. (There are, naturally, Chanel skis in the boutique as well.) In addition to Lagerfeld’s last collection, the store also boasts pieces from the Cruise 2019-20 range, the brainchild of Chanel’s current artistic director and Lagerfeld’s longtime right hand, Virginie Viard.
Chanel’s Aspen ephemeral boutique is open through Martin Luther King weekend, at once showcasing the iconic brand’s past and its future. And, who knows? Perhaps, once inside, you will find something you want to invest in for yourself—and then pass on to the next generation.
Sources from: Aspen Daily News