Gabrielle Chanel, known also as Coco Chanel, revolutionized fashion for women. She allowed for trousers to be worn as a dressy alternative to skirts and dresses and created the LBD, the famous "Little Black Dress" which allows for a day into evening outfit which both liberated our choices and allowed for freedom and comfort, without sacrificing beauty and glamour. If ever there was one single designer who changed the game completely for womenswear, it was Coco herself.
Now an upcoming new fashion exhibit at the V&A is going to show the world what Chanel was and is about, once and forever. Based upon the Gabrielle Chanel, Fashion Manifesto exhibition organised by the Palais Galliera, Paris, which was cut short by the advent of a worldwide pandemic, the upcoming exhibition at the V&A in London will be re-imagined and feature rarely seen pieces from the V&A’s collection, alongside looks from the Palais Galliera and the Patrimoine de CHANEL.
Opening in September 2023, the V&A is to stage the first UK exhibition dedicated to the work of French couturière, Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel, charting the evolution of her iconic design style and the establishment of the House of CHANEL, from the opening of her first millinery boutique in Paris in 1910 to the showing of her final collection in 1971.
Featuring over 180 looks, seen together for the first time, as well as jewellery, accessories, cosmetics and perfumes, the exhibition will explore Chanel’s pioneering approach to fashion design, which paved the way for a new feminine elegance and continues to influence the way women dress today.
Based upon the Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto exhibition organised by the Palais Galliera, Paris, the exhibition will be re-imagined for the V&A and feature rarely seen pieces from the V&A’s collection, alongside looks from Palais Galliera and the Patrimoine de CHANEL, the heritage collections of the fashion house in Paris. Key pieces on display will include outfits created for British model Anne Gunning (later Lady Nutting) and Hollywood stars Lauren Bacall and Marlene Dietrich.
"As one of the most successful fashion houses in existence, Chanel owes much to the templates first laid down by its founder Gabrielle Chanel, over a century ago. We are delighted to be partnering with Chanel and the Palais Galliera on this exhibition, which provides us with the opportunity to explore the origins and elements of this enduring style and to display little-known historic Chanel garments from the V&A collection." -- Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A
Chanel designed first and foremost for herself. By creating clothes fit for an independent and active lifestyle, she anticipated the needs and wants of modern women. Through eight themed sections, the exhibition will explore Chanel’s innovative approach to fabric, silhouette, and construction and will examine how she drafted a new framework for fashion in the twentieth century. Showcasing a stunning array of some of Chanel’s most notable designs from her 60 years in fashion, the exhibition analyses her professional career, the emergence and the development of her style, and her contribution to the history of fashion. The exhibition will also highlight Chanel’s British inspirations, such as her adoption of tweed as well as other British-made textiles.
The exhibition will be presented in partnership with Palais Galliera, the Fashion Museum of the City of Paris, Paris Musées.
Top image courtesy of the V&A, used with permission.