More than 200 Chanel looks will be seen together for the first time in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s (V&A) forthcoming exhibition on the work of French fashion designer Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel.
Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto will unfold over 10 sections, charting the evolution of her design style and the establishment of the House of Chanel, from the opening of her first millinery boutique in Paris in 1910 to the showing of her final collection in 1971.
Following the announcement of the exhibition last year, the V&A has confirmed that more than 200 looks will feature, as well as accessories, perfumes and jewellery from the world-renowned fashion house.
The first UK exhibition dedicated to the work of Chanel, and a reimagining of the Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto show organised by the Palais Galliera in Paris, the V&A display will also include rarely seen pieces from the London museum’s collection, as well as looks from Palais Galliera and the Patrimoine de Chanel – the heritage collections of the fashion house in the French capital.
One of the earliest surviving Chanel garments – a silk jersey blouse dating back to 1916 – will be on display, in addition to original costumes designed by Chanel for the Ballets Russes production of Le Train Bleu in 1924 and outfits specially created for late Hollywood stars Lauren Bacall and Marlene Dietrich.
An early example of Chanel’s innovative evening trouser and ensembles from the designer’s final collection, which was presented two weeks after her death on January 26 1971, will also feature.
The 10 sections – each following a different theme – will explore Chanel’s unique approach to fabric, silhouette and construction, and will examine how she drafted a new framework for fashion in the 20th century.
The sections, which will lead visitors chronologically through the designer’s career, are titled Towards A New Elegance, The Emergence Of A Style, The Invisible Accessory, Luxury And Line, Closing The House, The Suit, Chanel Codes, Into The Evening, Costume Jewellery and A Timeless Allure.
The exhibition will also highlight the inspiration Chanel took from Britain, including her adoption of tweed and other British-made textiles, as well as partnerships she formed with UK textile firms and a factory in Huddersfield.
Speaking ahead of the exhibition, which will open on September 16 and run until February 25 next year, V&A director Tristram Hunt said: “As one of the most successful fashion houses in existence, Chanel owes much to the templates first laid down by its founder, Gabrielle Chanel, over a century ago.
“We are delighted to be partnering with Chanel and the Palais Galliera on this exhibition, which provides us with the opportunity to explore the origins and elements of this enduring style and to display little-known historic Chanel garments from the V&A collection.”
Bruno Pavlovsky, president of Chanel fashion and Chanel SAS, said: “We are happy and honoured that the first exhibition dedicated to Gabrielle Chanel to be held in the UK will be presented at the V&A, one of the most prestigious museums in the world.
“Gabrielle Chanel was a legend in her own lifetime. This exhibition will analyse her contribution to fashion and her radical vision of a style that created modernity and reflected the aspirations of women and the evolution of their place in society.”
– A limited number of tickets for Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto at the V&A will go on sale on March 23, with further tickets to be released in June.