Warning: Constant WP_DEBUG already defined in /usr/home/huckleberry/domains/messmag.com/public_html/wp-config.php on line 84 The Evolution Of Chanel – Mess Magazine

Where it all began

First started by Madam Gabrielle Coco Chanel in 1910, Chanel had a humble beginning. Impressively all it took was a little black dress, a cardigan jacket,  perfume No.5 and an iconic Chanel Suit to break the couture history books placing Chanel as one of the most desirable brands in the world. Chanel revolutionised the way women dress, through the use of masculine colours and silhouettes her designs brought an end to the Belle Epoque era of french fashion. The popularisation of women trousers, suits and hats was a stand out game changer and remain iconic pieces of fashion today.

“ I designed dresses precisely because I went out, because I lived, for myself, the life of the century” – Chanel, 1966.

Chanel’s most significant fashion innovation was its use of tweed. First produced in the 1920s, Coco Chanel’s concept of a suit was to combine masculinity with femininity. She did so using tweed fabric, a fabric that is not generally considered luxurious. The designs were always simple, yet elegant which made Coco Chanel different from all other designers in the 19th century, since this was a time full of luxurious, over-designed, and constrictive clothes. Women in the 1920’s wore mainly corsets and other confining garments, Chanel allowed women to break away from discomfort and be free in the way they dress.

The Karl Lagerfeld Era

Through the years Chanel has taken a subtle shift in silhouettes and ideas from season to season remaining youthful and desirable. With time Chanel progressed its clothing range to cater for a broader range of women. As Karl Lagerfeld took over designing for Chanel he looked to past designs for inspiration continuing to create collections that mirrored the emancipation of women and their entrance into the workplace.

The Karl Lagerfeld era was a most dominant one from the defining models of the 1990s such as Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell to the modern iconic faces of today such as Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner.  We saw slip lace dresses, bridal pieces, denim ensembles and bikinis mark the runway nodding to more modern American fashion to keep in line with its competitors. Karl Lagerfeld proved that the house could stand, and flourish, in the (physical) absence of its founder.

Karl Lagerfeld
Naomi Campbell CHANEL RUNWAY 1993
Shalom Harlow 1995 CHANEL
Lily Rose Depp 2017 CHANEL

Aside from this, Chanel accessories became more playful and freeing in its designs straying away from the classic structures. The designs of Chanel were and are still today continuous; they have been able to rotate throughout the years so fluidly. Unlike the changing hemlines and silhouettes of competitors like Dior, Chanel has had a stable style present in mostly all runway collections.


Chanel 2019-2022

From 2019 onwards Virginie Viard has held the attention of Chanel fashion fans bringing in a new era, one which is very much still being defined. 

“It’s more like a wardrobe for different moments in a woman’s life or in a day. There’s a sense of freedom there – it’s just unapologetic Chanel.” Van Lamsweerde talking on Virginie Viard’s work.

This seasons fall 2022-2023 ready to wear collection brings a sense of deja vu. Virginie Viard focuses on fitted tweed knitted suits and long dresses as imagined by Coco Chanel herself in the 1930s, the palette consists of warm, natural yet contrasting fall tones of bright green, khaki, beige, pink, lots of black and silver appealing to the younger market of women who are becoming more colourful and outgoing with their style. Speaking on the collection Viard stated “I was also thinking about England in the 1960s, and very colourful record covers,”. This season is nostalgic, full of layers and detail bound to keep women looking chic, yet warm this winter.

Paris Fashion Week SS23

Propelling forwards focusing on sustainability, luxury and emotion Chanel presented a chic SS23 collection at Paris Spring/Summer Fashion week. Symbols of womanhood and freedom of expression are embedded in every look from pearls and sequins to polka dots and silk chiffons. It is clear that Chanel is a consistent brand, modernising with the time to hold its place as one of the leading Luxury brands in fashion. “It’s very elegant, very pure, very Chanel” – Bruno Pavalosky 

Honouring Gabrielle Chanel’s memory, Virginie Viard showcased signature tweed suited looks, a chiffon cocktail dress and two-piece suits inspired by Alain Resnais’s 1961 film Last Year at Marienbad, whose star, Delphine Seyrig, had her on-screen wardrobe at the time designed by Coco Chanel. The collection was somehow simultaneously elegant and timeless while being fresh and forward.

Chanel so far strongly remains in the capable hands of Virginie Viard, who worked side by side with Lagerfeld for many years. Viard has proven to align with the original values, beliefs and visions of Coco Chanel. A fashion house led by a woman designing for women is an exciting thing to watch, only time will tell where Chanel elevates to next.

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