In Focus

Chanel and the Building of La Pausa

In 1927 Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel purchased a five-acre piece of property in Roquebrune on the French Riviera. Located near Monaco, the property was the ideal setting for Chanel's private villa, the construction and design of which was overseen by the fashion designer herself and the architect Robert Streitz. The villa reveals her elegant and sophisticated fashion sense on an architectural scale, as Chanel planned every detail, from the building’s design to its decorative embellishments.

The patio, hall, and “monks’ staircase” hark back to the Romanesque convent Aubazine, where Chanel boarded as an orphan. As with her haute couture creations and her perfumes, the fashion designer combined innovative and traditional styles to create a villa that was simultaneously modern and rustic, fashionable and comfortable, classic and simple. The dynamic mix between modernity, in the form of cleanly painted white walls, and tradition, in the form of 16th- and 17th-century wooden furniture, was unprecedented during the late 1920s. Much of the furniture at the DMA, including the dining room set, was owned by Chanel. Many of the pieces were given to her by the Duke of Westminster, with whom Chanel was romantically involved during this time.

Chanel worked closely with avant-garde artists, welcoming such notable guests as Salvador Dalí, who lived and painted at La Pausa for five months in 1938. Artist and writer Jean Cocteau, poet Pierre Reverdy, composer Igor Stravinsky, and director Luchino Visconti were also frequent visitors.

Excerpt from

DMA, Gallery text, Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, n.d.

Related Multimedia

Learn about the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection.
Gallery talk by Olivier Meslay, Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs, Senior Curator of European and American Art, and the Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art, DMA
Gallery Talk; Summer Spotlight series; speaker is local filmmaker; DMA collection, The Outskirts 1997.17
Late Night lecture; Speaker is DMA Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture; Discusses Villa La Pausa before it was purchased by Wendy and Emery Reves
Learn about the Reves collection and the DMA.
Friends of the Decorative Arts; in conjunction with Impressions from the Riviera: Masterpieces from the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, November 5, 1995-February 4,1996; speaker is Chief Curator, DMA