With London design week coming to a close at the end of the summer, normally the excitement of the creative community slips into an autumnal lull, but not this year. This September we saw the launch of an exciting initiative and platform created by a newly formed partnership between Chanel and i-D magazine called Fifth Sense.
The platform at its heart is a celebration of creative women and the way they approach their work, their insights and craft; inviting them to use the idea of ‘the power of fragrance’ as a catalyst to inspire new pieces of innovative artwork in their respective fields. Commissioned by this partnership will be six pieces of multi-disciplinary work to answer this brief and on 21st September it launched with the inspiring ‘Mirror Maze’ by Es Devlin.
Based on the idea that a scent is intrinsically linked with memories, she plays with the concept of using them as ‘way finding’ devices through time. A scent can transport us back to various moments in our life and this thought starter of ‘navigation’ led her to the incredible mirror installation. The beautiful dream-like experience really does connect to this idea, allowing you to get lost in the maze and experience the bespoke special edition scent created by Chanel for this installation. This is a beautiful thought – it means if the visitors ever smelt the scent again their memories would always be linked to the maze.
Celebrating women in creativity for me is a subject close to my heart, and it is wonderful to see such a strong brand spearheading the innovative and pioneering work that Fifth Sense aims to produce. It is however not a surprise Chanel chose to get involved in. At the core of the business is a brand that has always managed to remain relevant and contemporary – it’s latest being the Data Centre Collection in Paris last month, where we saw Karl Lagerfeld take inspiration from the inner workings of computers and technology, enabling a fascinating stage design. For Chanel however, this always has to be a balance, ensuring it doesn’t forget it’s heritage, whether working from it’s classic cuts or more recently in its acquisition of Hawick Cashmere mill. After working together for 25 years Chanel was able to save the organisation after it went into administration in August, allowing Chanel to ensure the quality and craftsmanship of their products remains constant. After all, for this brand being innovative isn’t enough, it needs to be backed up by the brand promise of craftsmanship and authenticity.
It’s a smart move by Chanel that ensures consistency in its product. But it’s also a great marketing opportunity that demonstrates an investment in smaller, local producers – a hot topic for most businesses and increasingly relevant to a Millennial audience.
Fifth Sense in the same vain holds beautiful opportunities for content. Not only does it offer association with innovative artists, but also varied coverage and unexpected talking points for content online and offline that play to varying fields – extending their credibility as more than just a fashion house, rather a more holistic creative brand supporting innovation from the ground up.