The Enduring and Influential Legacy of Coco Chanel: Gabrielle Chanel, Fashion Manifesto

By Jenna Maunsell

by ELYSIAN Magazine

For many people, fashion serves as a medium for expression and art. The world of fashion has continued to change through the years, but there are a number of brands that transcend time and have left an indelible mark on the industry. Chanel has been one of these brands since its conception. 

Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel founded the iconic brand in Paris in 1910. Born as the daughter of a laundry woman and itinerant street vendor in France, Chanel was placed in an orphanage at the age of 11, where she learned to sew. After spending time in a boarding house for Catholic girls in Moulins, Chanel worked as a seamstress and would sing in cabaret during her free time. Upon realizing that she did not have a singing career in her future, Chanel pursued other work, which ended up resulting in the founding of Chanel Modes, her own hat boutique in Paris. Along with her singing, Chanel’s many differing experiences were seen as formative for her as she grew into her role as a French designer and businesswoman who ultimately would achieve world renown. 

The Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington, London, will be showing an exhibition on Chanel and the brand’s evolution over the course of time. Gabrielle Chanel, Fashion Manifesto opens September 16 and tickets are on sale now to reserve a time to experience Chanel in a new and unique way.

This is the first United Kingdom exhibition that is dedicated to the work and life of Coco Chanel. The exhibition tracks the establishment of the house of Chanel and illustrates how it has continued to influence the way that women dress in the present day. As you walk through the exhibition, mannequins dressed in some of Chanel’s best and most historic outfits fill the rooms. Silk hats from 1917, costumes for Le Train Bleu from 1924, Marinière blouses from 1916, autumn suits from 1964, the highlights of this exhibition span decades and grant the viewers the special opportunity to see Chanel, the brand, transform through time before their eyes.  From sophisticated tweed suits to the classic Chanel No. 5, Chanel’s presence and influence in the world of fashion is undeniable and remarkable. 

As the world’s largest museum of applied arts, decorative arts and design, the Victoria and Albert Museum has long been a trusted source of exemplary, innovative art exhibits, and Gabrielle Chanel, Fashion Manifesto is no exception. 

Come step into the house of Chanel at V&A South Kensington beginning September 16. 

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