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22 June, 2024

Russian socialites and influencers claim 'Russophobia in action'

Customers from Russia irked after being barred from purchasing Chanel goods

Source: Business Insider

Several Russian influencers and socialites say they've been barred from purchasing Chanel items and were told it was the brand's policy not to sell to customers who intended to bring the products back to Russia.

In the post, Litvin said she had to sign a document at a Chanel outlet declaring that she didn't live in Russia and wouldn't wear the bag on Russian soil.

Anna Kalashnikova, a Russian socialite and influencer, posted on her Instagram account on Sunday accusing Chanel of "Russophobia in action." She said she hadn't been able to buy a pair of earrings and a bag at a Chanel outlet in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

"Since I often come to Dubai for Fashion Week, Chanel managers recognized me, approached me, and said: 'We know that you are a celebrity in Russia, we know that you will take your purchases there, so we cannot sell you our brand items,'" Kalashnikova said in her post.

She said the experience reminded her of how "Coco Chanel was not only mistress of a Nazi" but was a fascist agent.

"The actions of her legacy, her brand make you think about the biography of Coco Chanel. Supporting fascism and Russophobia is so low," Kalashnikova said.

Drawing attention to Coco Chanel's links to Nazi Germany appears to echo the Russian government's dubious framing of its war against Ukraine as a military operation meant to root out Nazis in the Ukrainian government — a government led by a Jewish president.

The unprovoked nature of Russia's late-February invasion led to historically strict sanctions by governments including the European Union.

Representatives for Chanel didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider, but the Daily Mail appeared to confirm the French brand's policy, saying the company issued a statement noting that EU and Swiss sanctions prohibited "the sale, directly or indirectly, of luxury items to any natural, legal person or entity in the Russian Federation or for use in the Russian Federation."

The Russian interior designer and influencer Liza Litvin posted an Instagram story — seen by Fortune and the Daily Mail — detailing a similar experience of not being allowed to purchase Chanel items in Dubai.

In the post, Litvin said she had to sign a document at a Chanel outlet declaring that she didn't live in Russia and wouldn't wear the bag on Russian soil.

"I went to a Chanel boutique in the Mall of the Emirates. They didn't sell me the bag because (attention!) I am from Russia!" Litvin wrote in the post, per Fortune.

At the same time, a Ukrainian socialite, Snezhanna Georgieva, said some Russian shoppers had managed to find back doors to negotiate the purchasing of Chanel items, per the New York Post.

"I will love it when these brands are back," Georgieva said. "But we know some boutiques that are still open when a regular customer calls them."

On Friday, the pro-Kremlin tabloid Pravda ran a rebuttal to Chanel's stance from Maria Zakharova, a representative from the Russian Foreign Ministry, who accused the brand of supporting Nazism by not selling products to Russian customers.

"We just opened a closet, from which 80-year-old skeletons that had not yet decayed had fallen out," Zakharova's statement said. "We are a very patient and forgiving country. We have forgiven everyone for everything, we have turned the page and made way for the future. However, if this way is a ring road, we will break this vicious circle."

Vogue Business reported on March 4 that luxury stores in Russia were seeing a threefold increase in shoppers, with people "trying to buy as much as possible while they can still afford it." Several days later, luxury brands like Burberry, Chanel, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Kering announced the temporary closings of their stores in Russia.

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