There is something unholy going on, although it is not clear quite what, and there was nothing about bones and hair in the manifesto for the show.
â€œVoodoofesto,â€ Melissa Logan corrects me.
Stacks of folded t-shirts are laid out on a white shelf. The logos say Chanel, but the slogans add “voodoo”. I look around at gold bones, a staff with a head of hair and a skull in a makeshift water feature, submerged.
Logan (alias Coco Cartier and founder member of Chicks on Speed) is as sharp as her orange painted nails. Her collaborator Nadine Jessen (alias Ezili Lagerfeld) is more shadowy, and indeed eye-shadowy. Even I can see they are well dressed.
â€œIt’s a project that started in Abidjan in Ivory Coast from these friends who were there and they saw graffiti on a wall at a market in Abo-abo,â€ says Logan.
She tells me the Voodoo Chanel project spread from a to cafes, gigs and art venues around the world. The Voodoofesto is a call to hijack the world’s luxury brands, and one way to do so is to purchase one of the T-shirts or bags.
â€œYou can bring money and friendsâ€¦â€ laughs Jessen, and her German accent gives the proposal an edge.
Asked about their choice of target, Chanel, the duo fall over themselves to convey a real excitement about the brand.
â€œThey invest an extreme amount into their fashion shows,â€ says Logan.
â€œIt is really decadent,â€ Jessen confirms.
Logan: â€œThey brought an iceberg over, for example, from Greenland. They shipped over an iceberg for the Grand Palais show.â€
Jessen, in disbelief: â€œThey had a whole orchestra playing live for the music.â€
This mixture of energy and elitism is what the current show hopes to chan(n)el back into street, or even the underground.
Logan adds: â€œAnd Voodoo Chanel is also because voodoo is something very scary for the people who buy Chanel and, yes, they have a reason to be afraid.â€
There is laughter all round, mine being of the nervous variety. When Logan takes a call, Jessen offers me a tour of the darkest recess of the show, a narrow room which looks something like a shrine, except there are bottles of spirits and – my word! – a 10â€ long phallus sculpted from wood.
â€œIt’s an altar and a bar,â€ Jessen explains. â€œJa, we have some specials, some Russian cocaine, but we also start to set up an aphrodisiac but this has to sit for one week so then you have to come back in one week and then you can get a bit.â€
â€œItâ€™s like in fashion and also like in voodoo there are these rules but you can’t read them, and so itâ€™s also kept secret and thatâ€™s why voodoo is also in a way elitist,â€ she adds more seriously. â€œSo we really try hard to make it a little poppy and to make a possibility for sharing it.â€
Jessen patiently explains that Russian cocaine is a cocktail. â€œIt’s medicinal,â€ says a voice behind me. Logan is back.
â€œWe just do cocktails and water – thatâ€™s it, you know. Like, what is the term for Rausch?â€ Jessen asks her.
â€œRausch is like to get into a state.â€
â€œLike a trip, so this is like medicine to help you.â€
â€œTo get into a state,â€ Logan clarifies.
By which point I’m clinging to my sobriety very tightly. Steering the conversation into safer territory, I ask about the procurement of the many diverse materials in what, pop-up shop and temple aside, is also a stunning mixed media installation.
â€œSome of itâ€™s real, some of itâ€™s fake, some of itâ€™s local, some of itâ€™s from really, really exotic places,â€ says Logan.
â€œItâ€™s really growing, you know, so when we go somewhere and when we meet people and we talk to people and they bring stuff and we find stuff or stuff finds us,â€ Jessen adds.
Logan: â€œSome of the things we donâ€™t even know what they are because we brought them at markets and theyâ€™re like medicines that are supposed to do different things.â€
â€œThereâ€™s one thing I nearly forgot. Shall I show you?â€ Jessen’s offer sounds ominous.
We part the trailing curtains and move back into the gloomy bar. The German clicks a lighter and sets two green candles ablaze. Logan watches as she reaches into a pot and takes out a cellophane sock filled with an unidentified herb.
â€œThis.â€ she announces. â€œI have no idea anymore what this is.â€
Logan just remembers you boil it. Next the pair coax me into sniffing a dubious looking granular substance. Hmm, woody.
â€œAnd this…â€ Logan continues, â€œif you put this one in someoneâ€™s tea then theyâ€™re going to obey you and do whatever you want them to do.â€
At my lame suggestion that some of that might come in useful in an office, Logan says with dead seriousness: â€œYeah!â€
â€œBut be careful that it’s just one person,â€ Jessen warns me.
Next I am persuaded to taste a chip of something I am told is “like” dried ginger. This tastes like bark. And the women exchange comments, in German.
â€œThis is from the barber,â€ says Jessen pointing at the wall behind me. My eyes widen slightly at a giant Chanel logo made out of human hair.
â€œHere’s the last thing though,â€ says Logan. â€œWe do have Karl.â€
Naturally, she now produces a voodoo doll of Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld. He is tied up with sandalwood beads and I am assured these are for a healing spell. When I point out they look like teeth, the artist merely agrees.
â€œYeah,â€ she says. â€œIt looks brutal.â€
On my way out the door, I peer at some newspaper taped to a wall. A full page taken from that dayâ€™s Guardian recounts the murder of seven women in a protest march. It took place in Ivory Coast. The paper bears todayâ€™s date. Spooky indeed.