During a recent trip to the US, and with just a touch of jet lag, I found myself in this self-declared beauty fanatic’s happy place – the Atelier Beauté Chanel in Soho.
From an experiential perspective, it’s like nothing on this earth. Walking in the beautifully lit, mirrored entrance is like walking inside Chanel itself. But despite the exquisite appearance, it wasn’t intimidating – unlike the typical Bond Street boutique – and the team could not have been more inviting.
There’s an air of sheer, unbridled enthusiasm to come in and experiment and, most importantly, enjoy this access-all-areas invitation to get on intimate terms with the brand.
First off there were lockers to deposit your things, (who wants to be hindered by lugging a bag, coat, scarf, hat, gloves, extra jumper combo around when let loose on every Chanel beauty product in existence?). And even there, the attention to detail was stunning: the locker fascias made from the same material as the Les Beiges compacts. Not numbers but an iconic name for each locker (I chose Biarritz, reminding me of my friend Sam). The ottomans and chairs upholstered in Chanel tweed, and that was just the reception area!
Those with US mobiles could download the Atelier’s App, designed to guide you through the various skincare, cosmetics and fragrance ranges, letting you make notes on the products you tried and liked, potentially to purchase at a later date. As an alternative I was given a cute Chanel notebook to fill in (sometimes old school is better).
The Atelier was laid out with plenty of repeat stations (to avoid crowding) arranged into each phase of the beauty routine. Still feeling the after-effects of transatlantic flying, I decided to start at Cleanse. It was slightly odd removing every trace of make up in front of complete strangers but I wasn’t about to miss the opportunity of trying seriously powerful serums and, most importantly, eye cream.
There was no hard sell, just ‘artists in residence’ suggesting products and shades you might not have thought of to try. But, most importantly they shared their enthusiasm for their craft, a 100% fail-safe eyeliner technique or lipstick they had in their own professional kit. I tried a foundation formulation I’d never thought could be right for me but is, to the deepest blue mascara (I now regret not buying). I had an absolute ball and have a long wish list of other products to buy. The whole experience could simply be described as generous, not what I expected from a brand like Chanel, who I previously perceived as aloof and reserved.
This isn’t something you could ever experience at the Chanel counter in a loud and bustling department store beauty hall or in a quiet Parisian boutique. The Atelier Beauté Chanel is the epitome of a positive brand experience, elevating the brand: retaining the sophistication and elegance whilst delivering it in an accessible way.
One of the house rules is – enjoy your time here, stay as long as you like, and come back as often as you wish. And I plan to … and you should too if you’re in the neighbourhood!
Atelier Beauté Chanel, 120.5 Wooster St, New York, NY 10012
Sara Jones, partner + client services director