Chanel's Fashion Evolution
Boucle skirt suits in candy colours, quilted bags swinging from gilt chains, smart jackets and demure colours. However the ad campaigns or the catwalk shows are styled, Chanel clothes ooze luxury. Necklaces, beads and pearls offer a girly touch and it’s all finished off with chinking gold logos and a crafty camellia. The detailing and the show notes may change from season to season but the essence of the brand, which truly doesn’t resemble any other, endures.
Chanel, a word that is understood in any language, is the culmination of the life’s vision and toil of one woman: Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel (1883 – 1971). With her bobbed hair, red lipstick, cigarettes and liberated attitude, Mademoiselle may well be the best dressed business woman the world has ever seen, and her life and legacy has been duly mythologised by the company that still bears her name. See her legions of fans worldwide and such cultural episodes as exhibitions, glossy books and the 2009 biopic ‘Coco Avant Chanel’ starring the darling of French cinema, Audrey Tautou.
She pioneered such phenomena as feminine trousers, short hair and the little black dress – clothes that, while feminine and chic, allowed women to move, to work, to be taken seriously in a world where gender roles were in flux and women had previously been constrained and kept in place by corsets.
Chanel Number 5 remains the world’s best selling perfume and the interlocking Cs of the logo make one of the world’s most recognisable brand insignias.
Since 1983, Chanel is presided over by Karl Lagerfeld, ‘the world’s most famous fashion designer’ according to Vogue. Like Chanel, he has several personal trademarks – his dark sunglasses, his powdered white ponytail, the chunky silverware that adorns his begloved hands. He is a photographer, owns a bookshop, and is an avid collector and author of books. He was born in Germany and speaks four languages – French, German, Italian and English.