Early last year, Chanel opened the doors to its multidisciplinary cultural center, le19M, in the 19th arrondissement of Paris. Designed by the internationally renowned French architect Rudy Ricciotti, the 83,662-square-foot space was made for artists and artisans for the creation, transmission, and exhibition of craft. It was established to showcase the masterful invention of 600 artisans who work for Chanel Métiers d’Art daily, and as a space to explore the intersection of artistic fields like painting, photography, sculpture, installation, performance, and more.
Since le19M’s opening, experts and emerging talents in various areas of art and artisanry have joined together to meet, collaborate, and learn from one another, as well as engage in a full lineup of public programming, including talks, workshops, and exhibitions at its onsite gallery la Galerie du 19M.
Last month Dakar, Senegal, Whitewall joined Chanel to inaugurate the opening of la Galerie du 19M Dakar—the hub’s provisional off-site expansion, hosted inside Musée Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire (IFAN African Art Museum). Building from the brand’s recent relationship with the city—after it hosted its Métiers d’Art show in Dakar last December—the gallery’s pop-up will is open in the city through March 31.
Over several days, we explored the two-floor set-up, filled with presentations of painting, sculpture, photography, installation, and more. Upon entering the building, we were greeted by an extensive tapestry hung vertically that mapped out le19M’s home base in Paris between Aubervilliers and the 19th arrondissement.
Hand-embroidered beads and sequins of various colors mapped out streets and buildings atop fabric, and on the table in front of it, more embroidery creations were in the making.
Behind the table, a room filled with colorful wooden furniture by the designer Bibi Seck—inspired by the furniture sold on the streets throughout Dakat—anticipated guests for a masterclass.
To the left, Aska Yamashita (the director of Atelier Montex, one of the embroidery studios that makes up Chanel’s Métiers d’arts) and Kër Thiossane‘s Broderythme—a panel of geometrical patterns, made of leather and embroidered denim shapes and held together by metal rings—hung in a hallway. And to its right, a pop-up shop curated by two Senegalese women—the designer of L’Artisane, Khadija Aisha Ba; and the fashion patron, Khalil Cissé, known as The Fashion Curator—awaited.
Upstairs, after passing an installation hung in the stairwell by Cécile Ndiaye and parting a long curtain, presentations of all kinds filled the expansive space. Ivory-colored Malikane cotton tapestries by the French-based artist Julian Farade, collaboratively adorned by Ba and local embroidery villages, were hung, visually showing the hybridity of art and craft through color, texture, and movement.
Behind them, an installation of photographs by Malick Welli from his series “Anonym(us)” were joined by hand-woven polycotton curtains by Aïssa Dione. The work of stylist and designer Marie-Madeleine Diouf featured 12 archival photographs of her family in an installation of indigo textile pieces, made locally.
Yassine Mekhnache and Vastrakala‘s large tapestry stretched across the showroom’s back wall, which was bleached and embroidered with pearls, tubes, and metal threads in the tradition of Zardozi embroidery. There, Mekhnache mentioned it took over 2,000 hours to create.
Further presentations included a live looming performance from two creators at opposite ends, working on the same piece of fabric; free-form embroidery stitched portraits, like Le lien, sewn by the self-taught Malian artist Alassane Kone; and a very special le19M tapestry created by the renowned workshop Manufacture Senegalaise Des Arts Décoratifs (MSDA) in the nearby town of Thiès.
Present for the opening in January alongside Chanel representatives like President Bruno Pavlovsky and its head of sustainability, Eric Dupont, were artists and craftspeople that make the magic of la Galerie du 19M (in both Paris and Dakar) possible. Committee members and contributors—like the architect Mamy Tall, the program’s graphic designer Audrey d’Erneville, designer and filmmaker Selly Raby Kane, and cultural programmer Riad Fakhri—played supporting roles in helping curators El Hadji Malick Ndiaye (of IFAN) and Olivia Marsaud (of le19M) exhibit a well-displayed show. Through the spring, la Galerie du 19M will remain a treat to visit for locals and visitors alike, offering a slice of industry inspiration at every turn.