The Cote d’Azur was a place loved and cherished by global icon Coco Chanel – so much so that after years of holidaying here with friends, she made it her home. Happily, the influence she had on the style of the French Riviera is still apparent throughout the region and beyond.
Coco Chanel’s arrival in Juan-les-Pins in 1918 marked a turning point in women’s fashion. Eyebrows were raised when the fashion guru was spotted on the beach in a loose shirt and trousers, and she was quickly accused of wearing pyjamas – men’s pyjamas! – in public. She was even refused entry to the casino in Juan-les-Pins on account of her clothing, told by owner Edouard Baudoin that she was “living proof that one must not be merely dressed, but well dressed”. But as always, Chanel stayed true to her own impeccable sense of style, and soon the women around her noticed just how elegant and comfortable she looked and began to follow her lead. By the mid-‘20s, beach pyjamas became the fashion amongst the French Riviera elite. Before long, visitors were flocking to Juan-les-Pins or ‘pyjama-land’ just to wear their pyjamas (or “woollen suits for the beach”, as Vogue called them in 1931) in the chicest, most relaxed resort on the south coast of France.
“There is a town in France, where summers start at the beginning of spring and ends at the end of autumn. There, you can see women wearing strange dresses. It’s strictly speaking Pyjamapolis.” Robert de Beauplan, 1931
The rest of Europe began to follow suit in the 1930s, with Brighton being the first coastal town in Britain to embrace the pyjama fashion, much to the shock of the rest of the country. Chanel herself brought about the end of the craze by abandoning her beach pyjamas for the now classic swimsuit towards the end of the ‘30s, but she had given the French Riviera an enduring reputation as a place to be seen at the very forefront of fashion.
In 1929, Chanel’s lover Hugh Grosvenor, second Duke of Westminster, decided to build her a home on the coast she loved so dearly. La Pausa stands proud in prime position on Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, between the irresistible buzz of Monte Carlo and the gentle charm of Menton, and close to the Italian border. Chanel welcomed artists, musicians and writers including Stravinsky, Picasso, Jean Cocteau and Luchino Visconti into her beautiful home. Her aesthetic vision and the landscaping of her five acres of gardens still inspire the look and feel of other mansion homes in the region.
Chanel’s style and spirit lives on here in the south, complementing the natural beauty of the region. We feel sure that the lady herself would have admired Parc du Cap, which itself embodies the Rivieran chic she inspired.