Gabrielle Chanel - Fashion Manifesto

Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel - made the little black dress her own (1)

Gabrielle Chanel - Fashion Manifesto is the first exhibition in Australia to focus exclusively on the significant contribution to twentieth-century fashion culture by the renowned French couturière Gabrielle Chanel (1883–1971).2

Regular readers of our AnArt4Life blog may remember that Elisabeth, Mother to Caroline and I, has a passion for Chanel's fashion, her perfumes and her accessories.

In the post below Elisabeth shared her passion and showed us some treasured Chanel items in her collection.

Coco Chanel – the Art of Fashion
Chanel boutique at No 31 Rue Cambon in Paris was more than 50 years ago – the place where Gabrielle Chanel, better known as Coco Chanel, lived and worked for most of her life. credit: crfashionbook

We could not miss out on viewing the Gabrielle Chanel - Fashion Manifesto Exhibition, right on our doorstep at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.

Chanel devoted her life to creating, perfecting, and promoting a new type of feminine elegance, grounded in the reality of women’s lives. The exhibition highlights how Chanel rewrote fashion conventions to transform women’s wardrobes with her innovative ideas, pioneering approach to fabric and construction, and utmost consideration of the female form.

This was her fashion manifesto: a design style based on principles of comfort, streamlined simplicity and ease of movement that became a template for modern living.2

On show are pieces from the exhibition held at Paris' Palais Galliera, as well as from the Patrimoine de Chanel, the fashion house's heritage department.

More than 100 garments are displayed charting her career - just a few are shown below.

The exhibition also includes Chanel's achievements with perfume, jewellery and accessory design.

  • Chanel No.5 was initially only available to clients through Chanel boutiques. After forming Les Parfums Chanel in 1924 with Paul and Pierre Werthiemer, owners of one of the largest fragrance companies in France, Chanel was able to produce the scent in quantities necessary for international distribution.

  • The illustration at left below, by artist and satirist George Goursat is an early tribute to the spirit of freedom that the inscrutable scent inspired. 2

The perfume bottles and packaging has stood the test of time as is almost identical today.

Gabrielle Chanel showcased her fashion designs at home and social event. Below are photos:
Left - in her apartment at the Ritz Hotel (photo taken in 1937 by François Kollar)
Right - At the premiere of of Marcel Achard's play Adam, at the Theatre du Gumnase, Paris (photo taken in 1938 by Frères Séeberger)

If you happen to be in Melbourne before 22 April 2022 you can enjoy this rare fashion treat.