“Don’t panic, don’t wander off…. Open my bag, as they say in French…” Thus begins the audio-tour of the Chanel pop-up architecture pavilion designed by Zaha Hadid and launched this morning in Central Park (Fifth Avenue and 69th Street). The throaty dominatrix on the tape could have been Zaha herself, but is actually the ageless actress Jean Moreau.
The installation is a fine example of the collapse between art and commerce that architecture feeds into so well. Zaha’s billowing pod with entrances stapled into the base offers an almost too inner-uterine experience as visitors glide around slick white fiberglass folds detailed in padded black leather and across scarlet, maroon, purple, and aqua glass tiles blooming into high-kitsch floral patterns. “Don’t go up the stairs,” the voice commands.
In another unfolding folded space, art works—that is, installations inspired by “an iconic accessory”—are on display, including a gigantic purse with a fur-lined interior and an open compact (pace Meret Oppenheim). Other works show erupting pearls, ingested gold watches, and perhaps inevitably swings suspended from the gold roping handle of the famed Chanel quilted bag.
The pavilion itself is by far the most accomplished interpretation of Chanel’s power to be seductive, and temptingly threatening at the same time. And do go up those stairs.