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Charlotte Cardin On The New Chanel Exhibition at Paris Galliera

Photo by Virgile Guinard for Chanel

Women’s liberation through fashion innovation.

On September 30th, I was invited to the opening of the remark Gabrielle Chanel, fashion manifesto Exhibition at the Palais Galliera in Paris. The exhibition, which was organized primarily in chronological order, took me through decades of female empowerment shaped by Chanel’s creative revolutions.

See some of the highlights of the exhibition below:

Ode to the material, not the decoration

Seeing hundreds of vintage pieces, all representing how Gabrielle Chanel broke existing fashion codes and reinvented womenswear, with a focus on practicality, elegance and comfort, was my highlight of the exhibition. At a time when it was all about extravagant colors, uncomfortable corsets, and disgusting embellishments, Chanel had better ambitions for feminine fashion. Throughout her life (and visible throughout the exhibition), Coco Chanel emphasized quality materials and elegant simplicity rather than adding unnecessary ornamentation. Her pieces have been made from soft materials so that the modern woman can feel comfortable and refined in her busy everyday life. I was fascinated by the many tweed pieces (resistant, comfortable and borrowed directly from Chanel directly from men’s fashion), fringed dresses (travel-friendly and practical, as they never crease in your suitcase) and versatile and tasteful creations (like their silk bolero) Top, that can be transformed into a scarf, with movement and practicality again in the foreground). Chanel would apparently ask their customers to cross their arms when measuring them for custom orders, as they wanted the measurements to allow their customers to move freely in their creations.

Bags and independence

Charlotte Cardin Chanel
© Laurent Vu / SIPA

One of the first patrimoine Exhibits include an ivory printed Sure dress from the early 1930s. Elegant yet casual, its main advantage is the presence of two medium-sized pockets on the hips. Something we modern women take for granted was revolutionary at the time; A small detail like a bag was a confirmation that women could and would carry their own money without needing their husbands consent to spend where they wanted.

Luck # 5

Maybe it’s because five is my lucky number too, maybe because it reminds me of my grandmother’s hugs, or maybe because it was created almost a century ago and still has one of the most modern signature fragrances – but I certainly have a flaw in Chanel’s most famous perfume. Icon No. 5 was founded in 1921 and has an entire room dedicated to its history in the exhibition. In the middle of this room is the very first model of the fragrance bottle in a glass box. The bottle’s minimalist and elegant Art Deco design has barely changed since it was first created. Chanel mixed floral, woody and spicy notes and again created new female codes. This time in a unique fragrance that allows women to add an androgynous touch to their look and define femininity with a brand new vocabulary.

To find out more about the Chanel exhibition, click here.

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