They launched the fragrance… Now CHANEL snaps up La Pausa, the Riviera villa which was its inspiration

There’s a fascinating story behind each of the CHANEL Les Exclusifs fragrances – which explains some of the sometimes-ever-so-slightly-cryptic names. 28 La Pausa, for instance, is named after the address of the only home Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel ever owned, and which was her Riviera residence from 1929 to 1953.

Today – 30th September, the anniversary of the date Mademoiselle bought the villa in 1928 – CHANEL made the announcement they’ve bought back the villa. And (as they just declared), ‘after renovations to restore it to its original spirit, La Pausa will take on a new lease of life and radiate the culture and values of CHANEL.’

We’re guessing that might – just might – mean a CHANEL Museum (be still our beating hearts). Or perhaps a space to show their couture, or the annual Arts et Métiers extravaganza showcasing the craftsmanship of companies they’ve acquired: the weavers, the embroiderers, the beaders and makers of silk flowers. Whatever: this is a landmark moment.

La Pausa – with its sweeping views over Cap-Martin – was designed by architect Robert Streitz for Coco Chanel and her lover, the second Duke of Westminster. Its simplicity owed much, meanwhile, to Aubazine, the convent-turned-orphanage where Chanel spent her teenage years.

If walls could talk, the tales La Pausa‘s would tell. Furnished in the most modern style, with the simplicity of design for which she became renowned, it played host to creatives like Salvador Dali, Jean Cocteau, Paul Iribe, Igor Stravinsky and Serge Lifar.

After she sold it, the new owner (American writer and publisher Emery Reves) had everyone from Winston Churchill to Jackie Onassis via Greta Garbo over. (For more insights into the house, click here for a fascinating account on the Houses with History blog.)


And as for that fragrance? Perhaps not CHANEL‘s best known, even among Les Exclusifs – but so, so beautiful, exploring the many facets of iris (an ingredient currently having its moment in the fragrant sun), adding a wave of vetiver and a grind of pink pepper, creating a fragrance that’s fresh yet powdery, and with an earthy intrigue in the base.

Today’s announcement seems like a good excuse to put it on your I-must-smell-it list. Find it at CHANEL boutiques (including Covent Garden), Les Exclusifs counters – and with any luck, coming to a villa on the sun-drenched Côte d’Azur, sometime in the not-too-distant future.

Written by Jo Fairley


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