Culture Street

Sophia's Column

Chanel at the Saatchi Gallery

On November 3, 2015

saatchigalleryBy Sophia Whitfield

London is a place I have always loved despite my 25-year sojourn in Sydney. Trying to explain to people that I am British but my husband is Australian seems quite ordinary but then when I go on to say my five children are Australian and clearly all have Australian accents it gets a little complicated.

Three months ago we arrived and have settled into as normal an existence as we can manage with a determination to see London through new eyes Ė as if for the first time.

The last two weeks we have been enjoying half term with our two youngest children. I was on a mission to free them from their screens and allow them to enjoy the many charms London has to offer. They were of course thrilled at the prospect.

This week I happened to be at a literary lunch when a delightful new acquaintance informed me of the Chanel exhibition on at the Saatchi Gallery. So, on the last day of half term, I took along two of my girls (the boys were not at all interested) and we queued outside the gallery on one of the more crisp autumn days to see this free exhibition. We were well prepared with our scarves and coats as we moved slowly towards the entrance guided by numerous security guards. Following the snaking queue we made our way through a stunning garden which emulated Chanelís own garden with bird noises echoing from speakers in trees. A good distraction from the cold.

After 45 minutes we were inside, in a beautifully reconstructed replica of Chanelís apartment in Paris. The exhibition channelled Chanelís love of camellias, pearls, wheat and of course the colours black and white.

It was edgy but elegant. On the top level of the gallery (the exhibition was spread over all three levels) were photos of the many celebrities who have worn and promoted Chanel over the years. From Audrey Hepburn to Lily Rose Depp. The girls new all the young models and I knew the old ones!


As it is always essential to get the perfect Instagram shot we spent quite some time in a room full of large vats of perfume. As each one opened up displaying its coloured inside and exuding a Chanel scent we all clicked away on our phones. Even with all three of us taking photos our best shot still had someoneís shoe in it. The idea behind the room was to pay homage to Chanelís iconic No 5 perfume, which we did, after we had taken photos.


Today when I wandered into my youngest daughterís bedroom I noticed she had put the free poster we had been given of Chanel up on her wall. A sign, I think, that the excursion was enjoyed. With the exception of our Instagram photos we did manage to stay off our screens for all of Ö about two hours. Until next time Ö

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