January 30th, 2013
By Françoise-Claire Prodhon
in the-places. (Last updated: January 31st, 2014)

CULTURE CHANEL
AT THE GUANGZHOU OPERA HOUSE

The newest chapter in “Culture Chanel” is based on an exceptional loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Picasso's spectacular stage backdrop entitled Le Train Bleu (1924). Following two exhibitions of the same name (one held at the National Museum of China in Beijing, and the other at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai), Chanel is partnering with the Guangdong Museum of Art to host an exhibition at the Guangzhou Opera House, a prestigious building designed by the architect Zaha Hadid. "Designed to retell various chapters of the same story, “Culture Chanel” seeks to reveal Gabrielle Chanel's unique journey with Chanel,” explained Jean-Louis Froment, who has been commissioned to curate these exhibitions.

For this chapter, Sergei Diaghilev's ballet serves as the backdrop for the exhibition, a ballet named after Le Train Bleu (The Blue Train), and a luxury overnight train that first began operation in December 1922 and carried passengers from Paris to the French Riviera. It symbolizes the yearning for leisure and travel that was prevalent at this time. Diaghilev considered Le Train Bleu more of an operetta to be danced than a ballet. It was presented for the first time in Paris in June 1924, featuring music by Darius Milhaud, a libretto penned by Jean Cocteau, scenery designed by Henri Laurens and a stage backdrop and program created by Pablo Picasso. Gabrielle Chanel, who was in charge of costume design, created sporty jersey garments for this avant-garde ballet that echoed her vision of fashion at the time. The protagonists of this project would remain close, faithful collaborators with Gabrielle Chanel for the rest of her life. "These are the artists who led Gabrielle Chanel to consider her work as art, which helped her transition from the concept of fashion to that of style,” emphasizes Jean-Louis Froment. This thought process inspired Gabrielle Chanel to create a language that was both modern and timeless, which is illustrated brilliantly through the display cases filled with both her designs and designs by Karl Lagerfeld.

The exhibition decrypts Chanel style by focusing on five major themes: Breathe, Move, Love, Dream and Invent, which culminate with the monumental stage backdrop by Picasso. The world of Chanel comes to life with 400 works on display in a diaphanous and elegant setting. These include artwork (including approximately 30 drawings by Picasso), photographs, books from Gabrielle Chanel's personal library, films, couture pieces by both Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld, jewelry, watches and perfumes.

Françoise-Claire Prodhon

www.culture-chanel.com

Guangzhou Opera House
No 1, Zhujiang Xi Lu, Zhujiang New Town, Tianhe District,
510623 Guangzhou, China
Opening hours: 10am-7pm Monday to Sunday
Free entrance
January 16 - March 3, 2013

Painting © Succession Picasso 2013, Victoria and Albert Museum, London