The Palais Galliera in Paris reopened on October 1st after about two years of extensive renovations and expansions. The museum, which has been reborn in a new form, has doubled the exhibition space, the gallery, and also the first permanent exhibition hall has been newly established with the sponsorship of Chanel. The first reopening is the retrospective “Gabriel Chanel. Fashion Manifesto”, focuses on the founder of “Chanel”, Gabriel Chanel. It exhibits approximately 350 clothing and accessories made by Gabriel Chanel from 1910 to 71. She represents the history of mode in the 20th century, but surprisingly this is the first retrospective exhibition in France.
The exhibition begins with Chanel’s early work, which began her career as a hat designer over the years. In 1912, when Paul Poiret dominated fashion, known as a pioneer designer who liberated the female body in the early 20th century, she opened her first boutique in the seaside summer resort of Dauville and set up a home in Biarritz as lived a jet-setter that travels between Paris and other cities. Unlike the male Poiret, the female Chanel incorporated the concept of comfort in the clothes she wears into her productions. By making herself a muse, she was in direct opposition to the fashion of the time. A typical work that had a big impact on the world was a blouse using jersey material used for men’s underwear and sportswear. She launched flexible and comfortable everyday wear and quickly gained a reputation. From sporty styles to little black dresses to sophisticated minimalist dresses, chic styles’ evolution is on display in chronological order. Impressive is the constant coexistence of elegance and comfort.
In the small room, there were handwritten notes about the successive packages and production of the first perfume “Chanel N ° 5” for “Chanel” announced in 1921. To fulfill Chanel’s desire for “ascent of women, a scent for women,” the first “Chanel” perfumer Ernest Beaux broke the traditional perfume code and created it using 80 kinds of ingredients. The gorgeous, abstract, and mysterious scent that sympathize with Chanel’s dress is a scent that overturns the common sense of the time and has revolutionized the history of the perfume industry. Chanel chose a minimalist bottle to make the main character’s scent, and it has been inherited with little change until now.
In the 1930s, there were plenty of gorgeous evening dresses like those in the movies “Great Gatsby” and “Midnight in Paris.” Around the exhibit, photographs and portraits of Chanel herself show how much she embodied her fashion. Her expression is a little stiff, she puts a cigarette between her fingers, and always relaxes her shoulders in a casual pose.
After that, she retired from the front lines of fashion due to the war then reopened the boutique in 1954 at the age of 71. With the new look of the corseted silhouette by Christian Dior in the limelight, Chanel again went against the times’ trends. The iconic work is a suite setup. A lightweight jacket like a cardigan emphasizes the chest, and armholes allow free movement of the arms. The jacket always has pockets, and the silhouette is made of tweed fabric that maintains flexibility. The skirt does not tie up the waist but uses a structure that stops under the knees by putting a slit in the back and pulling the legs. Chanel’s easy-to-move and the functional suit was criticized in France though, became very popular in the United States and was once again in the limelight as a designer.
The newly built underground space is named “Gabriel Chanel’s Room” exhibits method to decipher Chanel’s dress code by theme. A lineup of iconic accessories and high jewelry such as Chanel’s signature contrasting edging and collarless straight-cut suit, the Parisian chic little black dress, bicolor shoes, and 2.55 handbags. All of them are elegance and chic yet comfortable. If “Chanel” had not been born, modern women’s fashion could have been extremely cramped. The most amazing thing is that it doesn’t feel totally old-fashioned throughout. This is a retrospective exhibition that proves that she is a great designer who has established a norm of femininity with a timeless design.