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chanel in the park: une défense

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By now, anyone with an Internet connection knows that Chanel’s new art container concept, Mobile Art, has landed on Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield. What’s not to love about a globe-trotting exhibit inspired by the beloved 2.55 quilted handbag, you wonder? Just ask The New York Times‘ architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff. It seems the Zaha Hadid-designed spaceshiplike structure—which houses original works from 20 contemporary artists including Stephen Shore, Sophie Calle, and Yoko Ono—struck Ouroussoff as more than a bit indulgent. We’d like to take this opportunity to defend the French fashion house and its traveling homage against such recession-minded reticence.

For its placement in the park, Ouroussoff accused the Chanel pavilion of “dismantling the boundary between the civic realm and corporate interests.” Hmm. With taxpayers set to funnel $700 billion straight to Wall Street, we can’t help but feel this is the least of our worries. Fashion has long been prone to frivolity; it’s part of our charm. But to hold something that’s drawing cash-strapped crowds and even creating jobs (as reported by the WSJ) against us as an example of our utter obliviousness to the crumbling financial world is, like, way harsh. Admission is free, after all.

Oh, and one more thing. “An elaborate mousetrap for consumers?” Please. How elaborate could it be if nothing is for sale? Century 21. That’s an elaborate mousetrap. This is really more like a subliminal messaging system whispering something we’ve known all along: Chanel is chic.

Photo: Billy Farrell / Patrick McMullan

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Dept. of Culture