We stopped by the Chanel fine jewelry showroom the other night to check out some serious bling, like the new chromatic J12 watches that can only be polished with diamond dust. They're amazing; and if only we could afford that diamond dust, we'd be adding the new J12 to the list of gifts we really, really want.
But while the baubles were, of course, incredible, one of the biggest mesmerizers in the showroom wasn't propped on a jewelry tray. Instead, it was inside the ipads dotting the floorspace.
The ipads framed a preview of Chanel's revamped fine jewelry and watch websites, which launched yesterday. Like the jewelry, the sites are stunning-- but they're also smart. It's no secret that many luxury brands haven't been quick to embrace e-commerce (like Lanvin, which just hit the web last fall), and for good reason: It's not always easy to marry the web's accessibility with a brand's exclusive image. Remember a little site called eLuxury? It may have been LVMH's web portal, but its platform lacked the refinement of the brands it sold. No wonder gorgeous Net-a-Porter won that battle.
But Chanel's new sites are a triumph. They're surprisingly informational, including a glossary describing all materials used in the watches and jewelry. Sure, I know an emerald from a sapphire, but maybe not an iolite from a blue chalcedony, and reading about in the Chanel-approved language had me hooked for quite a while.
The pieces can even be filtered by price, eliminating that awkward moment on the boutique floor of "Er, how much is this?" So while you may not actually buy the $4,700 ring immediately online, you might admire it from the comfort of your own home before venturing into the boutique. Or maybe you'll just enjoy the amazing glossary, and the beautiful videos of the watchmaking process, and the intense effort Chanel has put into exploring e-commerce. Either way, the online experience is encouraging, and we hope more luxury brands follow suit.