Gabrielle Chanel (designer), Evening dress c. 1923–26 (detail). Silk crêpe, tube and rhinestone embroidery, lamé, tulle embroidered with gold thread, Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris. Photo © Julien T. Hamon

Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto is the first exhibition in Australia to exclusively focus on the significant contribution to twentieth-century fashion culture by the renowned French couturière Gabrielle Chanel (1883–1971). This major exhibition is presented by the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in partnership with the Palais Galliera, the preeminent fashion museum of the City of Paris, and will be launched on Saturday 4 December 2021 with the popular black-tie event, the NGV Gala.

‘Coco’ Chanel at the Ritz Hotel (drawings by Christian Bérard and Jean Cocteau), 1937, photograph by François Kollar. Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine. © Jean Cocteau / ADAGP. Copyright Agency, 2021. Photo © Ministère de la Culture – Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, Dist. RMNGrand Palais / François Kollar. Courtesy of the National Gallery of Victoria
‘Coco’ Chanel at the Ritz Hotel (drawings by Christian Bérard and Jean Cocteau), 1937, photograph by François Kollar. Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine. © Jean Cocteau / ADAGP. Copyright Agency, 2021. Photo © Ministère de la Culture – Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, Dist. RMNGrand Palais / François Kollar. Courtesy of the National Gallery of Victoria

Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto premiered in Paris in autumn 2020 and makes its international debut at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. The exhibition was developed by the Palais Galliera,without standing loans from the Direction du Patrimoine de CHANEL, the fashion house’s heritage department, and is curated by Miren Arzalluz and Véronique Belloir, respectively the Director and Head of Collections of the museum.

Chanel (couture house), Gabrielle Chanel (designer). Evening cape c. 1924–26. silk (velvet, crêpe georgette), marabou (feathers). National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Promised gift of Krystyna Campbell-Pretty AM and Family in memory of Delphine Lévy Photo: Narelle Wilson, NGV
Chanel (couture house), Gabrielle Chanel (designer). Evening cape c. 1924–26. silk (velvet, crêpe georgette), marabou (feathers). National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Promised gift of Krystyna Campbell-Pretty AM and Family in memory of Delphine Lévy Photo: Narelle Wilson, NGV

With designs drawn from the rich holdings of the Palais Galliera and the Patrimoine de CHANEL in Paris, complemented by important loans from major public museums and private collections, Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto showcases the impressive breadth of Gabrielle Chanel’s output and her design codes. The Melbourne presentation also features several designs from the NGV Collection, including recent, never-before-seen acquisitions generously gifted by Krystyna Campbell-Pretty AM and Family, including a white lace Evening dress, spring-summer 1933 and spectacular shirred red silk velvet and marabou-lined Evening cape,c. 1924–26.

Chanel (couture house), Gabrielle Chanel (designer). Evening dress spring–summer 1933. Organdie embroidered with cotton, silk satin. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Promised gift of Krystyna Campbell-Pretty AM and Family Photo: Narelle Wilson, NGV
Chanel (couture house), Gabrielle Chanel (designer). Evening dress spring–summer 1933. Organdie embroidered with cotton, silk satin. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Promised gift of Krystyna Campbell-Pretty AM and Family Photo: Narelle Wilson, NGV
Chanel (couture house), Gabrielle Chanel (designer). Evening dress spring–summer 1933(detail). Organdie embroidered with cotton, silk satin. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Promised gift of Krystyna Campbell-Pretty AM and Family Photo: Narelle Wilson, NGV

Considered to be one of the most influential designers of the twentieth century, Gabrielle Chanel introduced a language of modernity into fashion that still resonates today. With the opening of her first fashion boutique in Deauville in 1912, then her couture house on 31 Rue Cambon in Paris in 1918, Chanel began to reform women’s wardrobes by creating a new code of dress that privileged comfort, function and elegance, and responded to the growing desire for greater social freedoms among women.

Gabrielle Chanel (designer), Evening dress c. 1923–26. Silk crêpe, tube and rhinestone, embroidery, lamé, tulle embroidered with gold thread. Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris. Photo © Julien T. Hamon
Gabrielle Chanel (designer), Evening dress c. 1923–26. Silk crêpe, tube and rhinestone, embroidery, lamé, tulle embroidered with gold thread. Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris. Photo © Julien T. Hamon
Gabrielle Chanel (designer), Evening dress c. 1923–26 (detail). Silk crêpe, tube and rhinestone, embroidery, lamé, tulle embroidered with gold thread. Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris. Photo © Julien T. Hamon
Gabrielle Chanel (designer), Evening dress c. 1923–26 (detail). Silk crêpe, tube and rhinestone, embroidery, lamé, tulle embroidered with gold thread. Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris. Photo © Julien T. Hamon

Chanel’s designs offered a restrained luxury that rejected ornamentation and, above all else, allowed women to move with ease. She pioneered the use of jersey and tweed, drawing inspiration from menswear and sportswear conventions, and championed the ‘little black dress’ and the suit as liberating modes of dress for women.

Unfolding across several chronological and thematic sections, Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto explores Chanel’s design codes through a visually arresting and sumptuous display of more than 100 garments that trace her remarkable career.

Gabrielle Chanel (designer), Dress spring–summer 1960. Embroidered cotton tulle, lamé, organdie. Palais Galliera, Paris. Gift of Chanel. Photo © Julien T. Hamon
Gabrielle Chanel (designer), Dress spring–summer 1960. Embroidered cotton tulle, lamé, organdie. Palais Galliera, Paris. Gift of Chanel. Photo © Julien T. Hamon
CHANEL design made by Gripoix, Brooch 1937. Gilded metal, translucent and opaque polychrome glass. Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris. Photo © Julien T. Hamon
CHANEL design made by Gripoix, Brooch 1937. Gilded metal, translucent and opaque polychrome glass. Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris. Photo © Julien T. Hamon

 

These are placed alongside her innovations in perfume, jewellery and accessory design. Highlights include early examples of her use of black to connote modernity and chic; delicate lace gowns; wool jersey and tailored tweed suits; dazzling beaded garments; and bold costume jewellery. The survey offers audiences an unprecedented opportunity to appreciate Chanel’s significant impact on the development of womens wear throughout the twentieth century, and to consider the legacy of her designs in contemporary culture.

 

 

 

 

Highlights of the exhibition include rare examples of Chanel’s early day wear and her wool jersey suits, which marked a radical departure from the elaborate fashions of the Belle Epoque and Edwardian periods in France and England.

Chanel (couture house), Gabrielle Chanel (designer). Suit comprising jacket, skirt and blouse spring–summer 1966. Overpainted wool, raw silk, gilt-gold metal National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Presented through The Art Foundation of Victoria by Mrs Angela Wood, Member, 2000. Photo: Narelle Wilson, NGV
Chanel (couture house), Gabrielle Chanel (designer). Suit comprising jacket, skirt and blouse spring–summer 1966. Overpainted wool, raw silk, gilt-gold metal National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Presented through The Art Foundation of Victoria by Mrs Angela Wood, Member, 2000. Photo: Narelle Wilson, NGV
Chanel (couture house), Gabrielle Chanel (designer). Suit comprising jacket, skirt and blouse spring–summer 1966. (detail). Overpainted wool, raw silk, gilt-gold metal National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Presented through The Art Foundation of Victoria by Mrs Angela Wood, Member, 2000. Photo: Narelle Wilson, NGV
Chanel (couture house), Gabrielle Chanel (designer). Suit comprising jacket, skirt and blouse spring–summer 1966. (detail). Overpainted wool, raw silk, gilt-gold metal National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Presented through The Art Foundation of Victoria by Mrs Angela Wood, Member, 2000. Photo: Narelle Wilson, NGV

Equally captivating are the gowns associated with Chanel’s so-called ‘romantic’ period of the 1930s. Dedicated sections of the exhibition showcase Chanel’s love and use of floral motifs-realised as printed textiles or as appliqued florets – and her skilfully manipulated lace evening wear.

Gabrielle Chanel (designer), Evening dress autumn–winter 1930. Net, sequin embroidery, golden braid, Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris. Photo © Julien T. Hamon
Gabrielle Chanel (designer), Evening dress autumn–winter 1930. Net, sequin embroidery, golden braid, Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris. Photo © Julien T. Hamon

Chanel’s innovations also included the first composite and abstract perfume, Chanel N°5, created in 1921; cosmetics and highly decorative costume jewellery that combined precious and semi-precious materials. The exhibition also explores the design codes Chanel introduced in the 1950s, including the quilted 2.55 bag and two-tone slingback that remain closely associated with the visual language of the house.

Gabrielle Chanel (designer). N° 5 perfume bottle 1921. Glass, cotton cord, wax seal, printed paper. Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris. Photo © Julien T. Hamon
Gabrielle Chanel (designer). N° 5 perfume bottle 1921. Glass, cotton cord, wax seal, printed paper. Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris. Photo © Julien T. Hamon
Gabrielle Chanel (designer), ‘2.55’ bag 1955–71. Dyed quilted lamb’s leather, gilded metal, twist clasp. Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris. Photo © Julien T. Hamon
Gabrielle Chanel (designer), ‘2.55’ bag 1955–71. Dyed quilted lamb’s leather, gilded metal, twist clasp. Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris. Photo © Julien T. Hamon

A further highlight of the exhibition is a display of iconic Chanel suits. Debuted by Chanel in the 1910s and reintroduced after the re-opening of her haute couture house in 1954, the two or three-piece suit, in lightweight woven tweed or wool bouclé, remains a feature of the house’s collections to this day. Popularised by the likes of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, Princesse Grace de Monaco and actresses such as Marlene Dietrich, Romy Schneider and Lauren Bacall, the Chanel suit quickly became the embodiment of sophistication and functionalism, defined by its tailored lines, allowance for ease of movement and comfort, and clever use of gilt buttons and braiding as means of both decoration and structure.

Anne Sainte-Marie in a Chanel suit, photograph by Henry Clarke, published in Vogue US, 1955, retouched by ARCP. Paris Musées. © Henry Clarke, Paris Musées / Palais Galliera / ADAGP. Copyright Agency, 2021
Anne Sainte-Marie in a Chanel suit, photograph by Henry Clarke, published in Vogue US, 1955, retouched by ARCP. Paris Musées. © Henry Clarke, Paris Musées / Palais Galliera / ADAGP. Copyright Agency, 2021

 


Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto will be on display at NGV International, Melbourne, from 5 December 2021–25 April 2022.
The information is extracted from the press release.

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