Chanel debuts its literary rendez-vous, dedicates first to Lou Andreas-Salomé
Chanel debuted its first literary rendez-vous this weekend in the house’s new couture salons and the subject matter was Lou Andreas-Salomé, the psychoanalyst and author with whom Nietzsche fell madly in love; and with whom Rainer Maria Rilke had a romance; Sigmund Freud a friendship.
The first of Chanel's 'Rendez-vous littéraire rue Cambon' was a three-way debate, discussion and series of readings which featured Chanel ambassador and spokesperson Charlotte Casiraghi, author Sarah Chiche and art historian Fanny Arama that took place in new salons at Chanel’s historic headquarters, recently redecorated by Jacques Grange.
In our era of marked by angry nationalism and anti-intellectualism, Andreas-Salomé seemed an apt first subject. A brilliant scholar and free-thinker born in 1861 in Saint Petersburg, Andreas-Salomé was one of the first women to write psychoanalytically on women’s sexuality.
Though Rilke was sixteen years her junior when he met the then 27-year-old Andreas-Salomé, he would write the most ardent of love letters to her, leading Freud to comment “she was both the muse and the attentive mother of the great poet.”
“I want to perform no deed that does not praise you and tend no flower that does not adorn you. Now I want to be you. And my heart burns before your grace like the eternal lamp before the image of the Virgin Mary. You,” read Casiraghi in French, sitting on a couch in front of one of Coco Chanel’s famed collection of Coromandel screens.
Devised by Chanel’s Artistic Director Virginie Viard and Casiraghi, Chanel ambassador and spokesperson, around the theme of emancipation, these rendez-vous hark back to an early era when Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel, and later Karl Lagerfeld, rediscovered women writers from the past and gave a voice to women authors of today.
“Andreas-Salomé didn’t just socialize with and seduce the greatest minds of her time, provoking fascination and desire, she was herself an outstanding orator, mediator, translator, as well as a theorist and a writer,” stressed Casiraghi, who describes visiting a bookshop like being a child in a candy store. “I want to buy everything!”
Both Casiraghi and Chiche also looked back at the effect Andreas-Salomé had on them when they first discovered her as teenagers – in the summer of her seventeenth birthday, on the recommendation of Karl Lagerfeld for Charlotte Casiraghi; and by chance in a bookseller’s stall for Sarah Chiche.
This first edition of the Rendez-vous littéraires rue Cambon is available on chanel.com, and can be seen via the Instagram hashtag #CHANELRendezvousLitteraires.
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