Iconic French luxury brand Chanel has opened its Canadian flagship at 98 Yorkville Avenue in Toronto. The two-level space spans about 8,550 square feet over three floors, and marks a milestone in the transformation of Yorkville Avenue into a significant luxury retail address.
The store was busy with a constant stream of visitors over the weekend despite a rainy Saturday, and many were buying. Doormen and valet parking staff greeted shoppers to the new store, which is currently the only standalone location for Chanel in Canada.
The flagship features two levels of retail space totaling about “600 square metres”, according to a press release. The Yorkville Avenue building includes a ground floor that is about 4,100 square feet, a second level spanning about 3,000 square feet, and there’s a non-retail basement providing Chanel an additional 1,450 square feet. Everything is housed in a commercial building featuring an historical facade.
Architect Peter Marino conceived the flagship’s interior design, while Toronto-based design firm dkstudio acted as Executive Architect. The store includes bespoke artwork and furnishings, with Chanel’s iconic colours of black, white and gold used throughout. There are “elements inspired by the Coromandel screens of Mademoiselle Chanel’s Parisian apartment,” including ample use of custom fabrics in the store’s silk/wool carpeting, in the draping of the walls, as well as on woven window panels in ivory, gold, black and champagne. The environment is very much self-contained — the woven window panels prevent shoppers in the store from seeing outside, and there are no products displayed in the store’s outward-facing windows to those passing by.
The store’s ground floor features four separate rooms, accessed from an entrance foyer that features a rock crystal and polished bronze Goossens chandelier. To the right of the foyer/gallery, the first space is dedicated to costume jewellery together with a selection of handbags; a second salon is dedicated solely to shoes, and is embellished with a brass ‘Raindrops’ wall mirror by Curtis Jere, and an engraved brass and bronze table by Michael Pohu. A third salon is devoted to a range of eyewear, small leather goods and other accessories like scarves, while the fourth salon showcases a selection of bags (including CHANEL’s Gabrielle bag Cruise novelties and the BOY CHANEL handbag), as well as Watches and Fine Jewellery. All four spaces are accessorized with French Montano ‘ribbon’ chairs in blackened bronze.
Leading upstairs is a white stairwell adorned with a white and gold beaded 3D pearl necklace that descends about 25 feet, and is visible from both the ground and upper floors. The art piece was commissioned by Jean-Michel Othoniel, known for his longstanding collaboration with the House of Chanel.
The store’s second floor is dedicated to Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel ready-to-wear collection — there are two salons that were “designed to reflect the intimacy of a private home, by including delicate French artisanal objects such as lamps with beaded detailing as well as a fireplace made of limestone”. A third salon can be closed off to create a luxurious private shopping area for clients, with versatility for other uses. There are also three luxurious fitting rooms adorned with art work.
The store currently lacks a salon carrying Chanel’s ‘High Jewellery’ collection that is found in some of Chanel’s top stores — some High Jewellery pieces are priced at over $1 million each, requiring a very special (wealthy) client. There are fewer than 50 Chanel stores globally that carry the High Jewellery collection and in North America, the only Chanel stores carrying it are in Beverly Hills, Las Vegas (The Wynn), Bal Harbour Shops, two in New York City, and in Vancouver. The 5,060 square foot Vancouver Chanel boutique, which is located on the ground floor of Holt Renfrew at CF Pacific Centre, showcased a $3 million ‘pigeon blood’ broach when the expanded boutique opened to the public in June of 2016. The Toronto Chanel flagship will be getting High Jewellery pieces twice a year (including during TIFF) to start, and the company will gauge the Toronto market to determine if Chanel High Jewellery will eventually find a permanent home in the new Yorkville Avenue flagship.
Chanel’s most recent Toronto flagship (which shuttered in December of 2016) opened in April of 1989 in The Colonnade at 131 Bloor Street West. Strong sales saw the 3,100 square foot store eventually annex a second level, growing to more than 7,300 square feet. Prior to opening at The Colonnade, a Chanel shop-in-store operated within multi-brand luxury store Creeds at nearby Manulife Centre.
Chanel had operated a temporary ‘flagship’ concession at Holt Renfrew at 50 Bloor Street West since the December 2016 standalone flagship closure. Chanel will remain at Holt’s, though in a smaller space.
Retail Insider first broke the story on Chanel relocating off of the Mink Mile in November of 2015, when it was revealed that brokers Stan Vyriotes and David Wedemire of DWSV Remax Ultimate Realty Inc. had acted on behalf of Chanel in a deal with landlord First Capital Realty to open the new flagship. Mr. Vyriotes and Mr. Wedemire have since been busy negotiating deals for other retailers on the street — upscale streetwear retailer CNTRBND opened a new location at 135 Yorkville Avenue several months ago, and luxury brands Jimmy Choo and Brunello Cucinelli will open beside Chanel in an under-construction retail complex towards the end of 2018. Yorkville Avenue has found its place as a luxury address in Canada, and Chanel marks a milestone in the street’s remarkable transformation.
Toronto is currently the only city in Canada to boast a freestanding Chanel store. The brand closed its 5,000 square foot freestanding Vancouver store in the summer of 2010, moving ready-to-wear to an expanded Chanel concession on the second level at Holt Renfrew in CF Pacific Centre. That concession expanded and moved to the ground floor in the summer of 2016, as described above, when Chanel deemed it appropriate to again expand its presence in Vancouver. Chanel first entered the Vancouver market in 1991 with a 1,300 square foot unit at 103-755 Burrard Street (now occupied by Coach), prior to moving to the now-shuttered 5,000 square foot 900 West Hastings Street location, which was most recently tenanted by defunct shoe retailer Ingledew’s.
Chanel also operates shop-in-store concessions at Holt Renfrew in Calgary, Toronto (50 Bloor Street West), Toronto (Yorkdale Shopping Centre), and in Montreal. The Yorkdale concession, which was already more than 3,000 square feet, recently annexed an additional 600 square feet of space with the expansion that will be revealed shortly. As well, in Montreal, Holt Renfrew just announced that Chanel will be moving into the new 250,000 square foot ‘Holt Renfrew Ogilvy’ store in 2020, which is being created by merging the city’s Holt Renfrew and Ogilvy stores, resulting in Holt Renfrew closing its smaller Montreal store on Sherbrooke Street West.
Chanel provided all of the photos of the interior of the store for this article, and Craig Patterson took photos of the exterior of the store on the afternoon of November 19, 2017. See below for more photos of Toronto’s new Chanel flagship.