Coco Chanel & Cremerie de Paris, a Love Story

Coco Chanel (1883 - 1971)

Coco Chanel
Gabrielle Chanel
Mademoiselle Chanel
almost became Duchess of Westminster

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Coco Chanel (1883 - 1971)
iconic fashion designer.
girlfriend of Dmitri Romanov, girlfriend of Bendor / 2nd Duke of Westminster,
friend of Aimée Lopes de Sotto Maior / Aimée de Heeren.
night visitor of Cremerie de Paris
inventor of Chanel N°5, the world's most sold perfume
helped with a little jewel left to Aimée de Heeren to buy Cremerie de Paris N°1

There are many articles about Gabrielle Chanel.
This one is limited to her links with Cremerie de Paris.

A Start with nothing
Childhood in poverty
1883 august 19 Gabrielle Chanel was born in Samur.
Her father Albert and her mother Jeanne Devolle worked on markets.
The famille lived in difficulties.

1895 Gabriel's mother Jehanne died from tubercolosis.
Her father does not know how to handle the situation
and gives his 5 children away.

The daughters are given to an orphanage at the Abbey of Aubazine
in Corrèze, south west of France.
Gabrielle is 12 years old.
She is accompanied by her sisters Julia (1882-1912)
and Antoinette (1887-1920)
The brothers Alphonse (1885 - 1953) and Lucien (1889 - 1941)
become farm workers.

Gabrielle spends 6 years in the abbey,
a life in austerity. She learns sewing.

France - Chanel becomes a fashion icon
1910 Paris
Chanel succeeds in the world of fashion

1908 Gabrielle Chanel arrives in Moulins (central France)
where she works as a singer in cafes.

Coco Chanel Chanel Etienne Balsan
She meets a wealthy young man Etienne Balsan (1878-1953).
Balsan introduces her to hi-society and to Boy Capel (1881 -1919).
With the help of Balsan and Chapel
she opens a Boutique on Boulevard Malesherbes.
Chanel starts with hats she buys in departments stores
and she decorates.
1910 Chanel moves to 21 rue Cambon.
1913 Chanel opens a second Boutique in Deauville
between the Casino and the Hotel Normandy.
Chanel Biarritz
1915 Opening of a third Boutique à Biarritz.
1919 Opening of a new larger Boutique in Paris at 31 rue Cambon
Step by step Chanel becomes the most important fashion house
of it's time.

at the same time ...
Russia - children fascinated by fairytales
around Cremerie de Paris

1910 St Petersbourg

The Romanov children
grow up with fascinating stories
about a Cremerie de Paris located at the entrance
of the le Halles foodmarket build in 1860 - 1870
by Napoleon III under the eye of his glamorous wife
Empress Eugénie.

Alix HessenAlix Hessen
The Tsarina of Russia tells the children the stories
before they go to sleep.
The children are called Olga (1895-1918), Tatiana (1897-1918),
Maria (1899-1918),
Anastasia (1901-1918) and Alexei (1906-1918).

Dmitri Romanov in 1910
With them lives a young cousin of their father Tsar Nicolas II.
Dmitri Romanov (1891-1942)
had lost his mother when he was born
and was abandoned by his father Paul Romanov.

Dmitri was very good looking,
the children admired him and considered him as their ultra cool, older brother.

Dmitri Romanov, Alexei, Ernst Ludwig Hessen, Eleonore Solms
Sometimes the children of the Tsarina's family
living near Frankfurt, Germany were also part of the group.
The Tsarina, very much criticised in Russia, prefered her own family
to the Romanovs living at the St Petersbourg court.
Her brother Ernst Ludwig Hessen (1868-1936) lived in Darmstadt, Hessen (now a state of Germany).
She also liked her sister in law Eleonore Solms (1871-1936).

The above picture taken in 1910 shows
Dmitri and Alexei Romanov with the Tsarina's brother
Ernst Ludwig Hessen, his second wife Eleonore Solms and Nicolas II
in Friedberg near Frankfurt.

Olga Romanov, Georg Donatus HessenSolms children
Usually were also around the brothers children
Georg Donatus Hessen (1906-1937), Ludwig Hessen (1908-1968).

As George Donatus and Ludwig were a little young,
Eleonore often called her nephiew Carl Solms (1903-2003)
and her niece Friederike Solms (1905-1995),
children of her brother Reinhard Ludwig living in the same town.
There was also Philipp Solms (1895 - 1918), much older in the age of Olga and Dmitri.

about 10 years later
Dmitri would leave a little jewel to Coco Chanel
financing 73 years later
the reopening
the legendary
Cremerie de Paris ....

50 years later
Carl and Friederike would be
the babysitters of their
editor of this website ...

les Halles de Paris imaginées à Biarritz par l'impératrice Eugénie, Pavillons Baltard, rue des HallesL'impératrice Eugénie jeune
The Tsarina, Alix Hessen, knew the legends about Cremerie de Paris
from the old Empress Eugénie of France.

1878, when Alix Hessen was 6 years old,
she had lost her mother Alice of Great Britain
so that her grandmother Queen Victoria
took her to live under Victoria's protection in London.

Empress Eugénie, friend of Queen Victoria lived in the UK in exile.
She was very sad as she had lost her own child, Napoléon Eugène (1856 - 1879)
and became kind of a "adoptive mother" for Alix.

Eugenie knew more about the Halles area than anybody else
as she was - in her youth as Empress of France -
the creative mind behind the renovation of the foodmarket
(Pavillons Baltard,
parts of Cremerie de Paris N°1, Cremerie de Paris N°2 and N°3, rue des Halles)
accomplished between 1853 and 1870
under the reign of her husband Napoléon III.

Louix XIV, third Bourbon King of Francemap
Cremerie de Paris N°1 was linked to a multitude of legends
and fairytales, as two centures before, back in 1646
the young Sunking, Louis XIV had lived in the house.

Coco Chanel discovers the Cremerie de Paris

1917 Bolshevik Revolution change everything in Russia.
Lenin's agents kill all the Romanovs they can find.
1918 July 17 Tsar Nicolas II, the Tsarina and their 5 children are assasinated,
Olga was 22, Tatiana 21, Maria 19, Anastasia 17 and Alexei Romanov 13.
Dmitri Romanov and his older sister Marie escaped from the Bolcheviks.
The Hessen and Solms cousins were save in Germany.

Many Russians emigrated to Paris.
Marie Romanov was the first to arrive.
Dmitri escapes via Iran and comes to Paris via London.

As most exiled Russians
Marie and Dmitri have lost most, if not all of their fortunes except some jewels.
They need to find a work.
Marie Romanov (1890 - 1958) starts a small fashion firm, called Kitmir
and becomes friends with Coco Chanel.

Cremerie de Paris in 1921
1920 Once arrived in Paris
Dmitri tries to find the Cremerie de Paris
décribed to him in the fairytale stories
the Tsarina was telling the children before going to bed.
All the Romnov children loved the legends around the Cremerie de Paris,
which was for Dmitri
a link to a past
where everything had disappeared.

Coco Chanel, Dmitri RomanovChanel staircase
1921 one day he shows the Cremerie to Coco Chanel,
friend of his sister Marie.
Chanel is capitvated by a mysterious number "5"
forged into the centuries old railing of a staircase in a courtyard
behind the Cremerie N°1.

Gabrielle falls in Love ...
with both
Romanov and Cremerie de Paris.

While having Romanov in her house in Garches
the couple enjoyed driving around the cities in the ouest of Paris.
Vaucresson, Marnes la Coquette, Saint Cloud, Ville d'Avray, Sèvres or Meudon.

Cedre Imperial, rue de la Republique, Meudon
Dmitri Romanov showed Chanel
the magical Cèdre Impérial Meudon
According to the legend and to fairytals told in Russia
the tree had the power to transmit good energy.

What is left from their adventure is the perfume Chanel N°5
and a small jewel Dmitri had saved from Russia.
Chanel kept the jewel until the last month of her life.

Invention of Chanel N°5
Coco Chanel always wanted to make a parfum,
but she had no know-how in this field.

Ernest Beaux  1920Rallet perfume bottle with Romanov eagle
Dmitri knew a Russian with French origins,
Ernest Beaux (1881 - 1961).
He was a perfumer for Rallet
a supplier of the Imperial family.
Dmitri had met Rallet with his cousins Olga and Tatiana.
Ernest Beaux had been able to escape from Russia.
Dmitri Romanov localised him in Grasse, Southern France.

Preparing a visit from Dmitri and Coco Chanel
Ernest Beaux brew different samples.

Arrived in Grasse Coco Chanel had no hesitation.
She picked the 5th sample,
just beacause "5" was her lucky number.

When Beaux asked her why she had picked the 5th samble
and why she wanted to call the perfume Chanel N°5
Gabrielle answered.

"I always launch my collection may 5th,
the 5th month of the year,

leave the perfume it's number 5
this number 5 will bring luck."

Chanel N°5

first Chanel N°5 bottle
Dmitri designed the first bottle
inspired by a Russian vodka vase.

Chanel N°5 perfume today

1921 N°5 is launched
Chanel associated with Pierre Wertheimer,
owner of the perfume company Bourgeois
and Theophile Bader, owner of the Galleries Lafayette
department stores.

Owning only 10% of the interests in the perfume
Gabrielle Chanel later feeled cheated.
This results in a feroce battle with Wertheimer.

Dmitri Romanov 1938
Dmitri Romanov at the 1938 wedding
of his direct cousin Kyra Romanov (1909 - 1967)
with Louis Ferdinand von Preussen (1907 - 1994),
grandparents of the designer Rixa von Oldenburg.

Coco Chanel, Dmitri Romanov 1938
The relation between Chanel et Dmitri did not last,
but they stayed friends.
Dmitri married Audrey Emery an American heiress that lived in France.
The picture has been taken around 1938.
Dmitri whose health declined died 1942 in Davos.

.... continue 2/4
Chanel meets Aimée Lopes de Soto Maior
a WW2 Secret Service agent sent to Paris from Brazil