February 4th, 2016
"Chanel's originality was the opposite of mine," declared Dalí. "I have always shamelessly exhibited my thoughts, while she neither conceals hers nor shows them off, but instead dresses them up… She has the best-dressed body and soul on Earth."
In 1929, following his Cubist phase, Dalí goes to Paris and begins interacting with artists such as Miró and Picasso and members of the Surrealist movement. He is also introduced into high society where he meets Gabrielle Chanel.
He asks her to collaborate on the decor of the ballet "Bacchanale". She, in turn, inspires him to create clothes and even perfumes and jewelry.
Chanel was fond of Dalí who baptized her "my little capsigragne". In 1938 he moved in La Pausa, where he produced the work "Endless Enigma".
© Philippe Halsman/Magnum Photos - Fundación Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueres, 2016
January 25th, 2016
Haute Couture is quintessentially Parisian. It was born in the quarter around the rue de la Paix where Charles‑Frédéric Worth founded his dressmaking salon in 1858. By transforming the couturier from a "supplier" into a "creator" he was the first to present his clients with actual collections on living models in luxurious salons.
At that time, Paris already had a reputation as the world's capital of elegance and was bursting with small businesses dedicated to the art of couture (embroiderers, feather workers, button, shoe and glove makers and milliners…).
Although Gabrielle Chanel opened her first Maison de Couture in Biarritz in 1915, she moved to rue Cambon in Paris, in 1918. By the end of the 1920’s, the address had expanded to include N°s 23, 25, 27, 29 and 31. The legendary 31, rue Cambon is now solely dedicated to Haute Couture. All of the collections and orders for Haute Couture are without exception created in this historical building.
© Anne Combaz
January 25th, 2016
Everyone knows the Art Deco staircase lined with mirrors where Gabrielle Chanel sat, unseen, to observe the reactions of the audience as each of her collections was presented.
Like a symbolic backbone, this central axis links the Haute Couture salons on the first floor to the creator's apartment on the second.
As discreet as the salons are sumptuous, the apartment is not alone, there are other equally strategic places in the labyrinth of the House of Chanel, from Karl Lagerfeld’s studio to the Haute Couture ateliers.
At each different stage of a creation, and each time it is necessary to make an adjustment to a piece or to have a fitting, it is not unusual to see the heads of the ateliers emerge from the workshop, their arms full with their precious creations.
© Olivier Saillant
January 23rd, 2016
Member of the Resistance, journalist and author, Edmonde Charles‑Roux, who was born in 1920 and died a few days ago, was one of the pioneers of French women's magazines in the postwar period.
After participating in the creation of "Elle" magazine in 1946, this woman of character, commitment and talent climbed the publishing ladder of French "Vogue" before becoming the Chief Editor in 1954.
Her first published novel, "To forget Palermo" in 1966, was a resounding success, since the novel won the Prix Goncourt. This was the beginning of a brilliant literary career that led her to enter the Académie Goncourt in 1983 before chairing it from 2002 to 2014.
It is of course no coincidence that the novelist, in love with fashion, devoted two books to Gabrielle Chanel. Upon meeting in 1954, the two women immediately felt that they shared an independent spirit and strength of character that drove them to build the lives they chose for themselves. It is as if Edmonde had found in the fashion designer the self-confidence that she still lacked, the figure she had just outlined. The young reporter decided to adopt a Chanel suit and pearl necklace, an outfit she wore for years. "You have a style, that of the peasant women of Arles, do not move from that, do not cut your hair" Gabrielle still advised her.
In "Chanel and her world", a work of reference, she pays tribute to Coco’s creative genius, but in "L’Irrégulière" (The Misfit), she retraces the designer’s unique destiny: that of a woman in charge of a huge company that was a lightning rod for an entire period. And yet throughout her life, the designer had been a “misfit” by bourgeois conventions. Which in a sense Edmonde was a bit herself.
© Robert Doisneau/Rapho
December 24th, 2015
Coco Chanel’s Christian name was Gabrielle. Born in Saumur on August 19, 1883, to parents Eugénie Jeanne Dévolles and Henri‑Albert Chasnel, she was the second child in a family of six children: Julia‑Berthe, Alphonse, Antoinette, Lucien and Augustin. She raised Julia‑Berthe's son as if he were her own child and later was equally protective of his daughter, her great-niece and goddaughter, also named Gabrielle. She always carried a photo of her about her person.
December 3rd, 2015
Gabrielle Chanel was always close to actresses. Was it because she mastered designing costumes, or because she herself had had dreams of a stage career in her youth? One of the first actresses to model Chanel’s hats in public was Gabrielle Dorziat.
Twenty years later, the couturiere was famous in the United States and beyond for her film costume designs. In 1931, the mute film star Gloria Swanson appeared in "Tonight or Never" clad in a long Chanel dress. In 1955, Marilyn Monroe captivated the world when she confessed to wearing only Chanel No. 5 in bed.
"The whole world of film making wants to wear Chanel," said the magazine "Elle" in November 1958. Many of Chanel’s clients were indeed actresses. Filmmakers including the New Wave directors asked Chanel to dress their leading ladies, among them the femmes fatales played by Jeanne Moreau in Louis Malle's "The Lovers" in 1958 and by Delphine Seyrig in "Last Year at Marienbad" in 1961.
Gabrielle Chanel also designed clothing worn on screen and in real life by Annie Girardot and Brigitte Bardot. She was friends with Anouk Aimée, spoke about literature with Jeanne Moreau, became a mentor to and admirer of Romy Schneider, instilling the art of charm in some, teaching the art of dressing to others.
Jeanne Moreau © Keystone France
Romy Schneider © Courtesy of Paul Ronald, Archivio Storico del Cinema, AFE
Delphine Seyrig © Keystone France
Anouk Aimée and Federico Fellini © Photo D.R
December 3rd, 2015
In 1936, at the age of 30, Luchino Visconti arrived in Paris, an artistic, intellectual and political hub during the pre-war period.
When he met Gabrielle Chanel, he was stunned by her mixture of "feminine beauty, masculine intelligence, and outstanding energy." He invited her to Italy and introduced her to his family. Gabrielle Chanel was instrumental in getting Jean Renoir to let him watch a film shooting.
The film director did better than that: hiring Luchino as an assistant and help choose costumes for two of his major films, "The Lower Depths" and "A Day in the Country", to which Gabrielle Chanel also contributed. This experience made a deep impression on Luchino, deciding him to pursue a career in film making.
After producing such masterpieces as "La Terra Trema", "Senso", and "Rocco and His Brothers", Luchino met Gabrielle Chanel again, in 1962. He asked her to design the costumes for "Boccaccio'70", and to teach the film’s leading actress, Romy Schneider, her sense of elegance.
The camera follows Romy as she appears successively attired in a brocade clothing, a negligee, and a cream suit. She moves around gracefully, ties a belt on her dress. In front of her mirror, she adjusts her pearl necklace and hair. The transformation has taken place. Romy has metamorphosed into a "femme fatale", a mixture of charm and elegance.
Chanel and Visconti remained lifelong friends.
© Courtesy of Paul Ronald, Archivio Storico del Cinema, AFE
December 1st, 2015
For the film "Once and Forever", Karl Lagerfeld drew from the unique heritage of Maison Chanel. Kristen Stewart and Geraldine Chaplin wore designs dating from 1900 to 1960. "The vintage couture pieces were jaw dropping. I could feel the history with every step. To look through the archives is one enormous privilege but to actually feel them. Wear them. Hold them. It’s priceless" said Kristen Stewart.
Royallieu, 1909 © Collection CHANEL D.R
December 1st, 2015
Paris, 1926 © Sasha / Getty Images
October 12th, 2015
1. WHERE SHE... LIVED
South Audley Street
2. WHERE SHE... LOVED
3. WHERE SHE... HAD AFTERNOON TEA
4. WHERE SHE... WENT SHOPPING
5. WHERE SHE... HAD A BOUTIQUE
6. WHERE SHE... HELD A COUTURE SHOW
© Anne Combaz