Gabrielle Chanel Manifesto
24 Mar 2022

National Galley of Victoria Exhibition

Gabrielle Chanel Manifesto is currently showing at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). This retrospective of Gabrielle Chanel’s work explains her ongoing influence on what we wear today.

At the start of the exhibition, late Edwardian style pieces give way to an exploration of a streamlined silhouette where men’s sports attire is transformed into day wear.

Founding her house in 1918, Chanel from the start was focussing on creating clothes that are comfortable to wear. Throughout the exhibition you will find practical clothes celebrating comfort and wearability. This functionality of designs is amplified by the choice of fabrics. While the daywear is highly practical it is not dominated by trousers or pants. Indeed, interestingly, there is only one pair of trousers in the collection.

Chanel’s lifelong commitment to creatng highly wearable clothes is affirmed during the 1930’s when two piece suits start taking centre stage though we have to wait until after WWII for her signature ‘chanel suit’ to emerge.

Post WWII the house’s famous ‘chanel suit’ came into being. A delightful runway experience is created with the presentation of different variations of this suit.

One of Chanel’s skills was to create unique house codes while catering for a variety of body shapes and sizes. Unsurprisingly then that you may fnd yourself looking at something that you would look amazing in while exploring the exquisite evening and cocktail dresses the collection presents. Chanel’s genius shines brightly with the eveningwear looking like it has just come off a runway.

Look out too for the elegant hand drawn sketches. The creator of these sketches left them unsigned so Chanel could claim them as her own.

There is a room attesting to Chanel’s love of jewellery. Gabrielle Chanel said “I willingly cover myself in jewellery because on me they always look fake. The folly of wanting to dazzle makes me sick; a piece of jewellery should cause astonishment at the most, not envy. It should remain an ornament and amusement.”

Nontheless, the jewellery in this room is dazzling. Check out the glass pieces where the description of the processes for creating them is as interesting as they are.

In September 1958 Vogue Paris said ‘Chanel, a manifesto of elegance in simplicity.”

This exhibition leaves you in no doubt as to the veracity of this observation.

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