Vicqui’s Edit: History Behind a Look-The Chanel Look

Aware of the changing way of life and its economic and social requirements Chanel produced clothes as smart, uncluttered and functional as the new architecture.

Joan Nunn, Fashion Costume 1200-1980

Throughout my fashion life I’ve imitated quite a few looks, including Edie Sedgwick’s Factory gear and Grace Jones’s androgyny, but none have been as long lasting as Coco Chanel’s signature LBD’s, two-piece skirt suits, wide-leg pants, costume and real jewelry and two-tone shoes.

Black two-piece Chanel ensemble (ca. 1927)

Perfect as a go-to look, it’s comforting to know I can throw on a tweed-y Chanel thrift store blazer, white tee, baggy jeans, gold chain belt and ballet flats and look as fabulous as Madame Coco.

Black Chanel evening dress, ca. 1929

So how did her look evolve? Here are some of the highlights:

  • 1914: After Chanel opened shops in Deauville and in Rue Cambon in Paris she became a top couturière that “epitomized the look of the 1920s.”
  • 1920s: She designed “jersey dresses that stopped at the knee with matching cardigans, and short skirts accessorized with tiny hats, costume and real jewelry.” “Aware of the changing way of life and its economic and social requirements she produced clothes as smart, uncluttered and functional as the new architecture,” wrote Joan Nunn in “Fashion Costume 1200-1980”.
  • 1926: She reinvented women’s wardrobes forever when she created a “crêpe de Chine black dress complete with minuscule tucks in a matching triangular design on the bodice and the skirt.” Prominently featured in “Vogue” magazine this little black dress or LBD became known as “the model T Ford of fashion.”
  • 1929: The end of the 20s found Chanel looking towards the future when women’s styles became less angular. Embracing an easier silhouette she designed a “jersey suit with a striped pullover.”
  • 1954: Following World War II Chanel reopened her couture house and premiered an “understated two-piece skirt suit trimmed in braid.”

All Photos courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art http://www.metmuseum.org