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Rosehall: Coco Chanel’s highland retreat back in style

Odd sort Coco Chanel. For some the epitome of the self made, independent working woman who released women from the tyranny of the corset, for others an amoral, rabidly anti semitic social aspirant prepared to dance with the devil, or at least the Nazis, to achieve her ends. What nobody disputes however is her absolute genius for design and the enduring influence she had on her contemporaries and everyone after. For this reason a chance to linger in a Chanel designed interior would be a treat indeed.  The sitting room above is one the ‘rooms over the shop’ in Paris in which Chanel entertained guests. Perhaps this is the look the architects of  Rosehall will strive for when they  breathe life back into the dilapidated highland estate which was once the designer’s Scottish retreat.

Rosehall Estate near Lairg in Sutherland was Chanel’s romantic hideout during her decade long affair with the 2nd Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor. The 20 room Georgian mansion was decorated by Chanel in her classic, minimalist style but later fell into decline.  Now architects Bell Ingram Design have been appointed  to convert the house into a hotel. Director Iain Cram says ‘the challenge is to bring the building back to life while preserving and reinstating the Chanel influence. Rosehall is thought to be the only property outside of France and Switzerland to contain a genuine Chanel designed interior and reputedly, Scotland’s first bidet. We have a real chance to restore this cultural gem to its former glory.’

Coco Chanel and the Duke of Westminster met  in the early 1920s and Rosehall became the focus of their love affair, acting as a secluded haven where they would indulge in country pursuits. Chanel’s penchant for textured wool is thought to have originated from the traditional tweed she wore on the estate.

As well as the apartment above her Paris shop,  another clue to Chanel’s taste in interiors may be the Coco Chanel Suite at the Ritz Hotel in Paris. Chanel lived at the hotel for many years and her suite’s decor has now been reinstated.

Pictured above are the stairs in Chanel’s Paris salon. She apparently designed the multiple mirrors so that she could observe without being observed.

Yes it’s a bidet but it was Coco Chanel’s Scottish bidet. Says Iain Cram, ‘We don’t know what the final interior design will look like, but we do know that it will have a strong nod to the 1920s and to Coco Chanel.’

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