Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel. A fashion icon and the designer behind one of the world's most celebrated fashion houses. Her name alone conjures up the definition of style and the standard with which many measure outstanding elegance. Today, a retrospective pays homage to the woman who built the house of Chanel, which still stands strong today and continues to set the bar for many contemporaries.
Palais Galliera, Paris's fashion museum, is putting on a fashion show like no other. Gabrielle Chanel, Manifeste de Mode, is an art exhibition that celebrates the mother of fashion, with her early nautical designs to her little black dresses that are to this day used as a blueprint to many couture collections being showcased. The house's iconic perfume, Chanel Nº5, has a room dedicated to its many faces with Marilyn Monroe's voice on a loop overheard famously declaring that it is the only thing she wears to bed, while a wall showcases Chanel's classic 2.55 bag. This exhibition is a celebration of a woman who not only changed fashion during her time but who continues to influence it now, ironically disproving the designer herself who once declared, "Working, creating incessantly, always inventing, doing, in a few words, our craft that has nothing to do with eternity."
From her famous tweed suits to extravagant costume jewellery, this retrospective is at once a voyage back in fashion history as well as a walk through styles and designs that clearly influence today's trends. The exhibited dresses are breathtaking in not only the care in detail paid to their creations but also how timeless they really are. The show starts with Chanel's Roaring Twenties designs taking the audience back to drop waist dresses and flapper dresses before sailing through her seaside chic collections and all the way to her spring/summer 1971 collection, her last.
The designer who prided herself on "making the dresses of dreams before cutting, trimming and removing, never adding" approached jewellery design quite differently though, and the museum has dedicated a space to her bejewelled creations, with the retrospective putting a spotlight on the pieces that adapted to and complemented Chanel's dresses while remaining a source of "amusement" as the designer always intended.
The retrospective is playing out until the 18th of July, 2021 and for any fashion historians and aficionados, there is arguably no better or a more fitting way to experience the fashion capital than taking in an exhibit at the fashion museum honouring France's most iconic designer.