► The striped sweater
In the mid-1910s, Gabrielle Chanel (born 1883) caused a sensation by creating a garment whose simplicity and fluidity resolutely turned its back on the rigid lines that hamper the silhouette of women. Made in an ivory silk jersey with languid pleats, its sailor top, borrowed from the sea workers’ locker room, immediately defines the Chanel allure.
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Displayed like a treasure in the half-light of the first room of the exhibition, this piece seems to link day to night, elegance to relaxation, modernity to timelessness. “Chanel will remain faithful to this conception, says Véronique Belloir, curator of the retrospective at the Palais Galliera. Neither the vogue for historicism nor that of exoticism will have a hold on it. “
►Le N° 5
Immortalized by Marilyn Monroe, whose nights he accompanied, the perfume designed by Ernest Beaux for Coco Chanel in 1921 is unique in more than one way. The refined graphics of its bottle, so far removed from the scalloped undulations prized of the Roaring Twenties, the equally sober white and black cardboard box, the eighty essences (jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang, spices, etc.) that make up the unique and indefinable juice. But also the name. Why N ° 5? Quite simply because Chanel chose the fifth fragrance presented by Ernest Beaux and launched it on May 5, the fifth month of the year. “This number 5 will bring him luck”, affirmed, visionary, the creator.
►The little black dress
Tightened, Coco Chanel’s chromatic palette honors black and white. In the 1920s, could not black, the color of mourning for so many war widows, according to this provocateur, also celebrate elegance and feminine chic? If she may not have invented it, Chanel launches in the magazine Vogue from October 1926 her “little black dress” with an extremely simple look, without unnecessary adornments, the skirt of which stops just below the knee. The king of couturiers of the time, Paul Poiret, declared that his rival inaugurated “The poverty of luxury”.
Her famous suit (published in Vogue in October 1960) and accessories / Wiliam Klein
At the end of a long eclipse after the Second World War, Coco Chanel returned to the front of the stage in 1953 and reopened her house on rue Cambon. A year later, another sparkle with her tweed suit: at 71, she was once again inspired by masculine clothing, practical, flexible and comfortable.
Success was not immediate and the tailor first found its followers across the Atlantic (Jackie Kennedy wears a pink Chanel on the day of her husband’s assassination) before establishing itself in France as a classic for the traditional bourgeoisie. . Chanel comes in colors, day or evening fabrics, skirt shapes, straight or slightly flared …
The only concession to exuberance and opulence, jewelry, precious or fancy, signed Chanel from the 1920s, offer a “Sassy counterpoint” (Véronique Belloir) to the purity of her clothes, which they enhance like deliberately showy trophies. The exception was in 1932, a line made entirely of diamonds and platinum, resembling the sublime Milky Way.
After the war, in the wake of her tailor, the seamstress developed accessories that were also instantly recognizable: a camellia plucked from the dandies’ buttonholes that, in 1923, the designer pinned to the muslin of her blouses, a quilted bag and shoes. two-tone, beige to extend the line of the leg and black to slim the foot …