Sarah Jessica Parker, Alice Dellal and Carine Roitfeld at Chanel's Little Black Jacket Exhibition Opening In Tokyo

22 March 2012

Now here are a few kilos you will never want to lose. Last night Chanel officially presented Karl's latest tome: a weighty collaboration with Carine Roitveld, which features 113 celebrities and fashion personalities wearing Chanel's iconic little black jacket in their own style, presented in a lavish coffee table book. It was launched with an exhibition in Tokyo's G-building in Aoyama.

Now, we have all been told a million times, not least by Coco Chanel herself, that, 'fashion fades, only style remains the same.' Sometimes it's hard to remember that, with every new season's trend beguiling from the catwalk. But, The Little Black Jacket, weighing in at a whopping 5 kilos, is a reminder that some things are "keeper's" and worth having over all others. The list of fashion's hardy perennials is short: a little black dress, a trench coat, a white shirt and jeans that make your butt look hot. Chanel gave us the little black dress, but you can argue so did a lot of others. Her tweed jacket, cut with cardigan ease, a soft shoulder and skinny arm, its hem and silk lining weighed down with a gold chain, its edges trimmed with braid, is one of the very few that has to come from the source. Few girls will thank you if you try to palm them off with imitators.

The two storey gallery space was full of fans who had come to the heart of Tokyo's coolest shopping district, to see for themselves: from the Tokyo starlets in Maison Michel black lace face masks, to the bleary-eyed European fashion editors, it was a full house for the black jacket.


Elisa Sednaoui wears hers with a white tutu. Stella Tennant went for a black tuxedo pant and Amelia Earhart aviator hemet. Linda Evangelista stuck with a black polo neck and mannish trousers. Claudia Schiffer added a crisp white cotton apron. Charlotte Casiraghi, a garland of camelias. Uma Thurman a frothy white shirt. Daphne Guinness, an armful of diamonds and some eyebrows made from layered feathers. Sarah Jessica Parker went for a skinny black pencil skirt and.....a crown! Jane Birkin stuck with her Hermes namesake bag and some well loved jeans. Sophia Coppola, a striped matelot t shirt and Verdura cuff. Alexa Chung, cut off Daisy Dukes. Lily Allen a black lace t shirt and velvet choker. Alice Dellal a fishnet t shirt and sleeveless, leather biker jacket. Georgia May Jagger a bra top. Lily Donaldson a punk kilt. And Yoko Ono a top hat and her signature wraparound shades.

Even the guys got a look in, although it takes a big man to pull off unstructured black tweed. Haider Ackerman manages it with with a silk scarf, battered trilby and biker jeans. Kanye West did it with a grey t-shirt and a bunch of hippy necklaces. Riccardo Tisci nailed it with a black hoodie underneath. And Carine's son, Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld proving style is a genetic gift, effortlessly rocked a tight woman's jacket over a faded denim shirt. To be honest, don't try this on your boyfriend. It is advanced class men's fashion, and wardrobe death for anyone else. Male model Mark Vanderloo could have made more of an effort than just wearing it over his boxer shorts...which goes to show that a six pack is simply NOT everything.

For this project, Karl set up camp in his Paris photographic studio, where with the help of Carine and a 'massive dressing up box full of tricks,' they shot the 113 portraits over only six days (some time between designing and showing his annual output of twelve collections). The book closes with a picture of Anna Wintour shot in her jacket from behind: her famous bob needing no caption or introduction. And the cover is Carine as Coco herself, resplendent in pearls, Verdura cuffs and tweed boater and brandishing Coco's little gold scissors.

We celebrated in the New York Grill on the 42nd floor of the Tokyo Park Hyatt Hotel, the restaurant made famous in Sophia Coppola's Lost In Translation: the one where Bill Murray meets Scarlet Johansson in the long bar while he waits out his jet lag. Most of the American and European guests had flown in that morning and by the time the main course was served, at 10pm on Wednesday evening, realised we hadn't been to bed since Monday. Conversations over the waagyu beef and red wine flown in from the Wertheimer family (Chanel's owners) vineyards were becoming surreal by midnight. But, Sarah Jessica Parker, Clemence Poesy, Cara Delevingne and Alice Dellal all stayed the course well into the small hours.

The exhibition will visit London in the autumn and the book goes on sale then too. Christmas comes early this year girls!

by Paula Reed in Tokyo


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