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
October 9th, 2015
This book celebrates the longstanding friendship between Gabrielle Chanel and the photographer Willy Rizzo (1928-2013), one of Mademoiselle’s closest confidants, from the post-war Paris period in which they met until her final days.
The book’s 180 photographs show Coco Chanel at work in her studio Rue Cambon, as well as Rue François Ier and Place du Palais Bourbon. Rizzo had the talent of catching the instant when a piece of fabric sculpted on a woman body becomes a clothing.
French texts coordinated by Fabrice Gaignault, with English translations by Jane Lizop, Editions Minerve.
A serie of exhibitions around the world will coincide with the book’s launch (São Paulo, October 3; Paris, October 15; Los Angeles, October 10; Geneva, November 5).
© Willy Rizzo. Mademoiselle Chanel and Paule Rizzo. Paris 1959
September 30th, 2015
On September 30, 1928, Gabrielle Chanel acquires a piece of land on the heights of Roquebrune overlooking Cap-Martin and sets about constructing her Mediterranean villa, the only ever house she was to design and decorate from A-Z. She commissions Robert Streitz, a young architect she had met through the Duke of Westminster, to oversee the project.
Completed in no time, the villa is delivered in January 1930 and is baptized "La Pausa" referring to a chapel that once stood on the site where Mary Magdalene is said to have “paused” on her journey from Jerusalem.
Its architecture boasts several references to the Aubazine Abbey where Gabrielle spent her childhood. In the entrance hall she commissions a replica of the abbey’s grand stone staircase, which becomes the house’s central feature; the villa’s three buildings are grouped around a patio edged by cloister pillars.
La Pausa’s interior evokes simplicity and elegance with white open spaces offset by warm rustic furniture, shimmering carpets, sunburst mirrors and giant chandeliers, lending a sense of modernity to the whole.
In 1930, press coverage includes a piece in American Vogue entitled "The Dwelling of Mademoiselle Chanel".
Indeed it was a special place for Gabrielle Chanel who for the next 20 years spends her vacations there, surrounded by close friends: the Duke of Westminster, Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dalì and his wife Gala (the artist painted "L’Instant Sublime" there), Serge Lifar, Jean and Valentine Hugo, Misia Sert, Paul Iribe, Pierre Reverdy and Gabrielle Labrunie, her young niece.
Following the Duke of Westminster’s death in 1954, Gabrielle Chanel sells the villa and its contents to the American author and publisher Emery Reeves who in turn entertains houseguests including Winston Churchill, Greta Garbo and Jackie Onassis.
©CHANEL Photograph: Laurent Meesemaecker
September 17th, 2015
Mademoiselle Chanel in November 1932, in the private salons of her townhouse at 29, faubourg Saint‑Honoré in Paris, presented her first - and unique - collection of High Jewelry, entitled “Bijoux de Diamants”. Captivated by the diamond’s sparkling brilliance and purity, for her the chosen stone also represented "in its density, the greatest value in the smallest volume."
August 31st, 2015
Rue Cambon is where it all began. Mademoiselle Chanel settled there in 1910 with the opening of her first shop at number 21, selling hats under the name “Chanel Modes”.
In 1918, she opened her Haute Couture House at number 31. Its layout under Gabrielle Chanel’s direction has remained unchanged, with its mirrored staircase leading to the apartment, followed by the Design Studio, where even today the House’s collections are brought to life under Karl Lagerfeld.
August 18th, 2015
The sportif-chic codes of Gabrielle Chanel’s wardrobe were inspired by the gentlemanly style of Arthur "Boy" Capel, her greatest love, and a keen polo player. As regards his support of the founding of her house, he would later say to Coco:
“I thought I was giving you a toy, but I was giving you your freedom.”
August 1st, 2015
Coco Chanel was born on 19 August 1883, under the sign of Leo.
May 2nd, 2015
In 1919 a small mid-season collection proposed by Coco for her clients vacationing in sunny climes gets a mention in American Vogue. The acceleration of cultural and social change sees the emergence of a new, independent woman who drives, and practices sports, while travel on luxury liners becomes fashionable among high society. The sportswear category takes off, with Gabrielle a key influencer.
In her boutique in Biarritz she proposes a sober, elegant wardrobe (think baggy, sailor-style pants, beach pajamas, and open-neck shirts) aimed at women familiar with the resort and yachting lifestyle of the era’s fashionable resorts, with as their playground the Basque Country, the Riviera and the Lido. Her designs, which coincide with the democratization of fashion and advances in travel that took off during the 1930s, are also cited in L’Officiel de la Mode in 1936: ’’A comprehensive mid-season collection… rich in suits and evening gowns.” The Cruise spirit is born, with Gabrielle its pioneer. Outmoded, the collection winds down in the 1950s but is resurrected by Karl Lagerfeld soon after his arrival at Chanel in 1983. Presented in late spring, on the fringes of the ready-to-wear collection, the silhouettes herald the arrival of summer.
The collection’s success sees the introduction of an annual show in the year 2000, a concept that slowly filters through to the rest of the fashion industry. Chanel sportswear, having evolved into more elegant lines, today addresses a global clientele on the lookout for newness, with fresh pieces introduced by the Maison roughly every two months. Refined, light and colorful, these summery silhouettes - geared to the day, cocktail-hour or evening - are especially suited to the climates of countries in South America, the Middle East and South-East Asia.
Blending together the traditions of a wardrobe and the modernity of a cosmopolitan style, the Cruise collection is about traveling. Each stop is for Karl Lagerfeld the occasion to tour favorite Gabrielle Chanel's destinations and to envision those she would have love to discover.
Gabrielle Chanel and Roussy Sert on a boat - Circa 1935 © All Rights Reserved
April 24th, 2015
“Prodigiously intelligent” is how Francis Poulenc describes Coco Chanel to Marie-Laure de Noailles in the early 1930s, before the two women meet at last, an attribute that also sums up the spirited Marie-Laure, though the traits they had in common did not end there.
Fact and fiction shaped both of their childhoods. Gabrielle, for her part, masked the unhappiness of her early years and went on to invent a legend. Marie-Laure, who was raised in a highly cultivated, privileged environment that was lacking in affection, had a solitary childhood, as the descendant of a wealthy German banking family and a French aristocratic clan whose ancestry can be traced back to the notorious Marquis de Sade. Her eccentric grandmother, the Comtesse de Chevigné, who partly inspired Marcel Proust’s Madame de Guermantes, was to prove a major influence.
Just like Gabrielle, Marie-Laure follows her artistic instincts. The Parisian hôtel particulier that she moves into following her marriage to Charles de Noailles already houses a major collection of Old Masters, from Delacroix to Rembrandt, Goya to Rubens. The couple commission decorator Jean-Michel Frank to redesign the site’s interiors — think stripped back spaces with monastic volumes, marrying rare pieces of furniture and unique materials like straw and panels of parchment with pure forms. This stark aesthetic echoes Marie-Laure’s own look, with her wardrobe of Chanel suits (she owned 40 different styles, most of them black, according to Abbé Mugnier).
In constant pursuit of refinement, Chanel the designer favors the harmony of lines and the simplification of the garment, freeing up movement. Marrying beauty and function, she defines a new modernity.
A rebel and nonconformist like Coco, Marie-Laure gets a kick out of provocation. In 1932, as one of the first to adopt the diamond jewelry designs audaciously presented by Gabrielle to help “combat the economic crisis”, she appears in Vogue sporting a sparkling feather brooch.
Chanel revolutionizes fashion; Marie-Laure as muse and patron, and later painter and writer, contributes to the history of art, amassing, together with her husband, a collection of works spanning Braque, Picasso, Balthus, Mondrian, Giacometti and Man Ray. The couple play host to le tout-Paris and cultivate their knack for scouting new talent, notably the Surrealists. They finance cinematic projects, and lend support to composers like Markevitch, Poulenc and Stravinsky …
More discreet in her support of the arts, it is Gabrielle Chanel who offers shelter to the Russian composer and his family in her villa in Garches. As early as 1924 she designs the costumes for Le Train Bleu, a ballet by Diaghilev featuring a decor painted by Picasso, along with other productions and a film by Renoir. She shares close relationships with the poets of the day and avant-garde artists including Dali, Nijinski and Visconti. Coco also shares a close friendship with Cocteau, for whom Marie-Laure has had an infatuation all her life … Marie-Laure is a hopeless romantic; Coco, who is destined to remain alone, despite her epic love affairs, confesses that, without love, a woman is nothing.
Marie-Laure de Noailles © Henri Martinie / Roger-Viollet
March 11th, 2015
For this Fall-Winter 2015/16 Ready-to-Wear show, every model wore a beige shoe with a black toe, squared heel and revisited proportions: “It’s become the most modern of shoes and makes beautiful legs,” Karl Lagerfeld explained.
Mademoiselle called them pumps. "They are the final touch of elegance" she used to say. To perfect the silhouette that Gabrielle Chanel introduced to the world, it was necessary to create a shoe that went with any outfit, one that was elegant, could be worn morning to night, and was suited to the new lifestyle of women.
In 1957, Mademoiselle Chanel created the two-tone slingback shoe in beige and black. It created a highly graphic effect: the beige lengthened the leg while the black shortened the foot. Whereas shoes had previously been made in a single color that matched the color of one's clothing, Mademoiselle Chanel once again overturned the codes of fashion by pairing beige and black with all outfits. In her words, "You leave in the morning wearing beige and black, you have lunch in beige and black, and you attend a cocktail party wearing beige and black. You're dressed for the entire day!" Chanel's slingback shoe experienced instant success. It varied in style, offering versions with a straighter or thinner heel and a rounded, square or pointed toe. Mademoiselle Chanel improved its comfort with the help of Massaro (which has remained Chanel's custom shoe brand to this day) by adding an elastic strap. Located "just steps away from Rue Cambon," the Massaro workshop continues to create all of the footwear creations for Chanel's Haute Couture and Métiers d’Art collections. Starting with his very first collection, Karl Lagerfeld has channeled his talent to modernize this model. The two-tone shoe thus lends itself to a myriad of metamorphoses. In just one season, it may be transformed into a ballerina slipper, boot or sandal without losing any of its original spirit.
© Photo Philippe Garnier / Elle-Scoop