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Friday, November 21, 2008

Showing the Money

By Rebecca Voight...

At least somebody's still making money these days. The Monnaie de Paris, the storied mint that churns out France's euro coins, went into full birthday mode on Wednesday to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the birth of Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, issuing a solid-gold coin with a face value of 5 euros, in reference to the house's iconic N°5 fragrance. The 5 oz. coin, limited to 99, features a Lagerfeld-made portrait of Chanel in trademark hat and pearls on one side and a quilted 5 on the other.

The cost for a gold coin is €5,900, but for those who find the price a bit steep in these copper-pinching times, the news from the mint is the coins have all been pre-sold—and we have a good idea who to. Anyway, the smaller silver coins are only €45. In total, the mint is issuing 11,900 pieces of Chanel money, which goes on sale December 1.

And so workwear-clad coin-makers milled with Paris paparazzi and fashion fanatics deep in the old Monnaie's workrooms while the gold heated up in the minting machine as we waited for the ever fashionably late Lagerfeld to arrive with France's Minister of Culture.

"Money sells," Lagerfeld later mused, after the first piece popped out of the machine. We then followed Chanel's Marie-Louise de Clermont-Tonnerre upstairs to the mint's gilt ballroom to quaff champagne before noon, of which Gabrielle would no doubt approve. As Karl Lagerfeld pointed out, "After 125 years, it's high time to celebrate."

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