Chanel’s Fashion President Loves San Francisco, New Chanel Store

Chanel operatives told us that Barbara Cirvka, Chanel’s fashion division president, was wearing a puffy black jacket (Chanel, of course), a straight black skirt, and had long blond hair. In the thick of the San Francisco Chanel store opening party, we wove our way around Maria Bello, Danielle Steele and several Gettys, all mingling under a tented Maiden Lane. And given only this vague description, my partner in crime for the evening spotted Cirvka in the crowd of San Francisco socialites (a great number of whom had blond hair wore black Chanel jackets). Unfrightened by our stalker skills, Cirvka (above, with Eric Hamilton, David Aste, and Keith Scott) agreed to a quick interview.

What do you think of what Peter Marino has done with the store?

I love what Peter has done with the design. He has taken the coats of Chanel and translated them into a retail space. The idea of history and heritage have always been important at Chanel but it always has to be modern and innovative, and Peter brought that.

The Misshapes music got a little louder, and the light got a little dimmer, making my notebook nearly impossible to see. But I persevered: How do you feel about the San Francisco market for Chanel?

San Francisco has always had a very sophisticated clientele with Union Square as it’s social core. Ultimately what I think is amazing is the ability to attract a much broader audience. From Silicon Valley all the way to North of San Francisco — they’re all very dynamic communities. This is our chance to create an exciting environment for them.

Cirvka began to look like she very much wanted to go enjoy her party, but I wanted very much to know how she was try to appeal to those varied potential customers?

If you think of the huge video screen on Geary Street, which will be on at night, that’s a real show piece. Maiden Lane on the other hand, is such a private street. It really caters to the luxury client who wants to be discreet.

I squeezed in one last question as photographers trailing Mrs. Newsom, San Francisco’s first lady, blinded us with camera flashes. Are you worried for the luxury market as we emerge from a recession?

I think once people have tasted true luxury, which means craftsmanship and rarity, they’ll always come back. Maybe not every six months, but every few years instead.

And with that, I closed my notebook and snatched another glass of champagne. Shortly afterwards, an inebriated Chuck Bass doppleganger showered me with the contents of his glass as he gushed about how much he loved my — “what are those things on your face called?” — glasses. I dabbed myself dry with a double-C-embossed cocktail napkin, grabbed my goodie bag, and called it successful a night.