“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only; fashion is something in the air. It’s the wind that blows in the new fashion, you feel it coming, you smell it. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” ...Chanel
I am a huge fan of Coco Chanel's little black dresses and her trademark suits, but it wasn't until I read Chanel, The Couturière at Work, that I realized just how far back in "fashion time" she actually began her career. I was surprised to discover that she first started out by trimming and designing hats in the early 1900's.
This fascinating book written by Amy De La Haye and Shelley Tobin, published by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, describes Chanel's work, saying, “In the years around World War I Gabrielle Chanel challenged the world of fashion head on. Jersey fabrics, easy to wear garments often based on mens’ sportwear, showy paste jewellery and the little black dress are just a few of her innovations that have become fashion staples. Other books have dwelt on Chanel’s tempestuous private life. Here, for the first time, the focus is on Chanel the couturière, her innovations and the immense influence she has had on the way women choose to look in the modern world. The story is brought up to 1994 in the final chapter based on an interview with Karl Lagerfeld."
Costumes de Jersey, by Chanel, from Les Elegances Parisiennes, March 1917
Chanel's beaded and embroidered silk evening dress, 1922
Portrait of Chanel by Lipnitzki, 1936
Portrait of Chanel by Roger Schall, 1938
Portrait of Chanel by Francois Kollar, 1937
Cocktail dress, 1958
Chanel Brooch in Renaissance style made of gilt metal set with faux gemstones