Chanel The Staircase At 31 Rue Cambon Photo Francois Halard Yellowtrace 02

The famous mirrored staircase inside Coco Chanel’s apartment at 31 Rue Cambon, Paris.

Photo: Francois Halard, courtesy of Chanel.

Portrait De Gabrielle Chanel En Veste, Blouse Et Bijoux Chanel, Vogue Américain Février 1954 (titre Factice)


Gabrielle Chanel, photographed by Henry Clarke, published in Vogue France, 1954.

Paris Musées. © Henry Clarke, Paris Musées / Palais Galliera / ADAGP.

Copyright Agency, 2021.

Chanel 31 Rue Cambon Paris Photo Francois Halard Yellowtrace


Chanel flagship boutique at 31 Rue Cambon, Paris.

Photo: Francois Halard, courtesy of Chanel.

Gabrielle Chanel 1930s Photo Andre Kertesz Yellowtrace


Gabrielle Chanel, c. 1930s, photograph by André Kertész.

Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine.

Photo © Ministère de la Culture – Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, Dist.

RMN-Grand Palais / André Kertész.

Courtesy of the National Gallery of Victoria.

Considered to be one of the most influential designers of the twentieth century, Gabrielle Chanel, affectionately known as Coco, 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 at 31 Rue Cambon in Paris in 1918, Coco 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.

As a fashion loving city, it is fitting that Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto makes its first international outing in Melbourne after its premiere in Paris. The exhibition, imagined by the Palais Galliera, the Fashion Museum of the City of Paris kicked off at NGV last week, on the 4th of December 2021.

Related: The Little Black Jacket—Photographic Exhibition About CHANEL’s Classic Arrives in Sydney.

Gabrielle Chanel S Apartment The Study 31 Rue Cambon Paris Photo Francois Halard Yellowtrace 02


The study at 31 Rue Cambon apartment.

Photo: Francois Halard, courtesy of Chanel.

Gabrielle Chanel S Apartment The Study 31 Rue Cambon Paris Photo Francois Halard Yellowtrace 06


The study. Photo: Francois Halard, courtesy of Chanel.

Gabrielle Chanel S Apartment The Study 31 Rue Cambon Paris Photo Francois Halard Yellowtrace 01The corner of the study. Photo: Francois Halard, courtesy of Chanel.

Gabrielle Chanel S Apartment The Entrance 31 Rue Cambon Paris Photo Francois Halard Yellowtrace 02The entrance. Photo: Francois Halard, courtesy of Chanel.

Gabrielle Chanel S Apartment The Dining Room 31 Rue Cambon Paris Photo Francois Halard Yellowtrace 01


The dining room. Photo: Francois Halard, courtesy of Chanel.

Gabrielle Chanel S Apartment The Dining Room 31 Rue Cambon Paris Photo Francois Halard Yellowtrace 03


The dining room. Photo: Francois Halard, courtesy of Chanel.

Numérisation D'urgence D'un Film Nitrate N°h82n11 Pour Le Palais Galliera


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.

Unfolding across several chronological and thematic sections, the show explores Chanel’s design codes through a display of more than 100 garments that trace a truly remarkable career. 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.

Alongside the garments is an insight into Coco’s interiors, displaying how her fashion sense was intrinsically linked with the style of her homes—namely her apartment at 31 Rue Cambon that sits atop the flagship boutique, the epicentre of the Chanel world and the symbol of the house’s style and its timeless elegance.

Chanel combined the beige of roughcast with glossy black window blinds in the same way as the two-tone leather of a pair of pumps; she turned a quilted suede cushion into her 2.55 bag; she used the same warm, neutral and natural shades as the basis for her interiors and for the tweed fabrics of her suits. The glitter of the chandeliers and the vermeil boxes lit up her interiors in the same way that her jewellery enlivened her clothes, according to the mood of the moment.

Gabrielle Chanel Fashion Manifesto National Gallery Of Victoria Yellowtrace 16


Gabrielle Chanel (designer)

CHANEL N°5 perfume bottle 1921

glass, cotton cord, wax seal, printed paper

Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris

Photo © Julien T. Hamon.

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CHANEL (designer) / Gripoix (maker)

Brooch 1937

gilt metal, glass paste (pâte de verre)

Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris

Photo © Julien T. Hamon.

Gabrielle Chanel Fashion Manifesto National Gallery Of Victoria Yellowtrace 14


Gabrielle Chanel (designer)

CHANEL N°5 perfume for handbag c. 1930

glass, silver-plated metal, jersey, cardboard, paper

Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris

Photo © Julien T. Hamon.

Gabrielle Chanel Fashion Manifesto National Gallery Of Victoria Yellowtrace 19CHANEL (designer) / Massaro (maker)

Prototype for two-tone shoe c. 1961

kidskin, silk satin Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris

Photo © Julien T. Hamon.

Gabrielle Chanel Fashion Manifesto National Gallery Of Victoria Yellowtrace 18Gabrielle Chanel (designer)

‘2.55’ bag c. 1955–71

quilted lambskin, gilt metal, swivel clasp

Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris

Photo © Julien T. Hamon.

Coco Chanel At The Ritz Hotel 1937 Yellowtrace

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.

RMN-Grand Palais / François Kollar.

Courtesy of the National Gallery of Victoria.

Of her interiors, of which her iconic apartment in rue Cambon still stands, she said “All my art has consisted of cutting away what others have added.” Her concept for a garment or an interior was always based on a structure of the strictest simplicity, governed by notions of freedom and comfort—vital luxuries in Chanel’s eyes. This was the basis for her vision of an updated form of classicism.

With this rational and functional base in position, decorative elements could then be added. Accessories, furniture and objects were arranged sparingly, rejecting any kind of hierarchy between things that were costly and things that cost next to nothing: Chanel combined precious stones with costume jewellery, placed vermeil boxes alongside dried ears of corn, retouched the gilding on her lacquer screens herself, arranged bronze sculptures on the floor and treated objects worthy of a cabinet of wonders as if they were holiday souvenirs.

Gabrielle Chanel Fashion Manifesto National Gallery Of Victoria Yellowtrace 04


Gabrielle Chanel (designer)

Ensemble with dress and jacket c. 1926–27

silk, silk taffeta

Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris

Photo © Julien T. Hamon.

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Gabrielle Chanel (designer)

Dress spring–summer 1960

embroidered cotton tulle, lamé, organdie

Palais Galliera, Paris

Gift of Chanel

Photo © Julien T. Hamon.

Gabrielle Chanel Fashion Manifesto National Gallery Of Victoria Yellowtrace 01


Gabrielle Chanel (designer)

Suit worn by Gabrielle Chanel autumn–winter 1958–59 (detail)

Lesur tweed, silk pongee gilt metal Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris

Photo © Julien T. Hamon.

Gabrielle Chanel Fashion Manifesto National Gallery Of Victoria Yellowtrace 03Gabrielle Chanel (designer)

Dress spring–summer 1971 ivory figured organza, gold lamé

Palais Galliera, Paris

Gift of Chanel

CHANEL (designer) / Robert Goossens (maker)

Belt spring–summer 1971 gilded metal, red and green glass, imitation pearls

Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris

Photo © Julien T. Hamon.

Gabrielle Chanel Fashion Manifesto National Gallery Of Victoria Yellowtrace 02Gabrielle Chanel (designer)

Evening dress spring–summer 1955

silk chiffon

Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris

Photo © Julien T. Hamon.

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Gabrielle Chanel (designer)

Dress spring–summer 1925

silk guipure lace, silk organza flower

Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris

Photo © Julien T. Hamon.

Gabrielle Chanel Fashion Manifesto National Gallery Of Victoria Yellowtrace 06


CHANEL (couture house)

Gabrielle Chanel (designer)

Evening cape c. 1924–26

Silk (velvet, georgette crepe), feathers (marabou)

123.0 cm (centre back), 230.0 cm (hem circumference)

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.

Gabrielle Chanel Fashion Manifesto National Gallery Of Victoria Yellowtrace 09


Gabrielle Chanel (designer)

Evening dress autumn–winter 1930

net, sequin embroidery, braid

Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris

Photo © Julien T. Hamon.

Gabrielle Chanel Fashion Manifesto National Gallery Of Victoria Yellowtrace 10Gabrielle Chanel (designer)

Evening dress c. 1923–26 (detail)

silk crêpe, tube and diamanté

embroidery, lamé, tulle embroidered with gold thread

Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris

Photo © Julien T. Hamon.

Gabrielle Chanel Fashion Manifesto National Gallery Of Victoria Yellowtrace 11

Gabrielle Chanel Fashion Manifesto National Gallery Of Victoria Yellowtrace 13

Gabrielle Chanel Fashion Manifesto National Gallery Of Victoria Yellowtrace 12CHANEL (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.

Gabrielle Chanel Fashion Manifesto National Gallery Of Victoria Yellowtrace 08


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.

“By bringing together all the facets of an exceptional creativity, this exhibition throws new light on Gabrielle Chanel’s stylistic legacy,” said Bruno Pavlovsky, President of Chanel Fashion. “A rebel at heart, she transposed her personal needs, audacity and freedom into creations that reflected her personality and that she initially made for herself. Her demands—comfort, functionality, simplicity—subsequently became those of all women. For the first time, fashion reflected the aspirations of women, the changes to come in their lives and the evolution of their place in society. Ephemeral in essence, with Gabrielle Chanel fashion, became perennial. By breaking away from the standards of her time, her codes and stylistic vocabulary have endured.”

This special event is now on display at NGV International, Melbourne, until 25 April 2022. For more information click here.

Related: Coco Chanel — The Woman Behind the Legend.


[Images courtesy of National Gallery of Victoria and CHANEL.]