November 3rd, 2017
If collecting is the art of juxtaposing works from different eras and places, Gabrielle Chanel had a certain taste for the exercise. Her interest in classical civilization, especially that of ancient Greece, converged with her love of Chinese antiquities, which she collected throughout her life, beginning with Coromandel screens. In her apartment at 31 rue Cambon, Mademoiselle created a dialogue between the bust of a Greek statue and some 18th-century Chinese vases, comparing their clean and powerful lines.
© "The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby's"
July 7th, 2017
Before Haute Couture, there was simply tailoring. In those days, fashion Houses made bespoke outfits to order for their clients. Only in 1858 did the first Haute Couture fashion House open in rue de la Paix, Paris. The system was turned on its head: couturiers no longer made clothes to measure for their clients, but rather sold them their own designs.
Many such companies opened in the following years, making Paris the city where "the whole world comes for its models". To this day, this uniquely French expertise offers a guarantee of excellence and creativity that has done much to enhance the city's reputation worldwide.
CHANEL, founded in Biarritz in 1915, and established in Paris in 1918, is the longest-standing Haute Couture label still in operation.
© Pari Dukovic
June 3rd, 2017
The exhibition Mademoiselle Privé now travels to Seoul for the second leg of its journey, opening on 23 June. This unique experience showcases Karl Lagerfeld's creative vision and his ever-fresh takes on the brand's codes and symbols. Drawing on Gabrielle Chanel's own life and creative process, the sources of inspiration that characterize Chanel's identity are brought to the fore throughout the exhibition. From Haute Couture to Haute Joaillerie, the exhibition takes the visitor to the very heart of Chanel's creativity, looking at the origins of symbols that have become synonymous with the brand, such as camellias, stars, pearls, N°5, and lions.
May 19th, 2017
Alain Resnais’ 1961 film "L’année dernière à Marienbad" takes place inside a Baroque palace in Germany surrounded by French formal gardens. The silver lamé and white chiffon dresses worn by the leading actress, Delphine Seyrig, were designed by Gabrielle Chanel. For this role, she adopted the appareance of a short-haired brunette, not unlike that of Chanel’s founder.
© Evening Standard
May 2nd, 2017
Gabrielle Chanel's fascination for Greek Antiquity had a profound influence on how she saw creation. In the center of her apartment stood a headless Venus dating from the first century BC. The timeless, strikingly modern figure implicitly reveals Gabrielle Chanel's technique, painstakingly chiselling, as it were, her garments with her fingers, her pins, the tools of her trade. She referred to the sculptor Praxiteles to explain her art and her vision of fashion, with cuts influenced by architecture, a repertoire of shapes, and fabric that draped naturally over the body.
© Olivier Saillant
April 28th, 2017
Choosing an outfit always means deciding what character to play, just like an actor dresses in character for a role on stage. The analogy extends to conjuring up new looks in sketches and drawings. It was thus hardly surprising that in the early 1920s, Jean Cocteau should turn to Gabrielle Chanel, the woman he held to be "the finest dressmaker of the day". He asked her to design costumes for three tragedies, Antigone, Orpheus, and Oedipus Rex, based on rough sketches. Harking back to Greek mythology offered a way to breathe fresh relevance into universal themes such as war, marriage, the power of language, and metamorphosis. Alongside the actors, Cocteau worked with avant-garde artists, with Picasso providing set designs and Honegger the music for Antigone.
© Genica Athanasiou wearing Gabrielle Chanel's costume for ANTIGONE by Jean Cocteau in 1922 - photo by Man Ray
March 6th, 2017
Gabrielle Chanel, La Pausa, 1938.
© Roger Schall
March 3rd, 2017
Gabrielle Chanel was fascinated by astrology: the zodiac, particularly Leo, her own birth sign, constantly shaped her creative vision. Her designs can be read in terms not just of inspiration, but also of superstition. She believed in the constellation's influence and chose lion motifs for her own home decor, with a lion statue never far from her.
January 20th, 2017
It was Gabrielle Chanel's idea to arrange mirrors along the length of the staircase. They would provide a fragmented view of what was going on downstairs—the show. Mademoiselle Chanel liked to sit at the top of the stairs out of view, watching every detail of each presentation, and the reactions of the guests.
© Pari Dukovic
December 5th, 2016
"Mademoiselle Chanel, who has been living at the Ritz for some months, is at home with a simple screen and a few blooms". Vogue Paris
She furnishes the rooms with items brought from her own home at 29, rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré, including tables designed by Goossens, sofas, gilded mirrors and crystal lamps.
Drawings by Jean Cocteau and Christian Bérard evoke the creative spirits in Chanel's circle at that time, offering an allegory of her life as a designer.
"On the dressing table were the vermeil boxes given to her by the Duke of Westminster, brushes, and the chamois cloth with her jewelry for the day."
Extract from "Chanel Intime", Isabelle Fiemeyer, Editions Flammarion
© François Kollar – French Culture Ministry – Heritage library