Sunday, October 04, 2020

‘Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto’ Palais Galliera


The Palais Galliera has reopened after a 2 years renovation with a retrospective of 350 pieces by Gabrielle Chanel. A big fan of Karl Lagerfeld, her successor, I was surprised by the elegant simplicity of her creations. Worlds away from his fanciful, witty clothes. 

Colette said,”Chanel works with her 10 fingers, her nails, her palm...right on the garment...pins and scissors strewn about, while a misty white creation with long pleats comes to life...” 

The 20’s - 30’s dresses, cut on the bias, are made of silken jersey fabrics. They follow a women’s form in the most graceful manner.  Does it takes a woman to truly understand a woman’s form? 

Her color palette is austere, limited to black, white, beige, pale pink with a dash of red. The exhibits in the new galleries downstairs have a tunnel-like feeling with long glass display cases on one wall. 

This black velvet school girl-like jacket with big bow is perhaps reminiscent of Chanel’s childhood in an orphanage where she first learned to sew.

The narrow galleries downstairs open into a big rectangular room full of sumptuous (fake) jewels.

Many designed with a Byzantine theme like the Maltese Cross made in collaboration with Count  Fulco di Verdura  Her accessories are iconic and worn world-wide.

Chanel made her comeback with her classic cardigan-style suit in 1954. The complex cut is made with multiple panels so it can be enlarged or made smaller if required. The skirt has 6 panels instead of two, for ease of movement.
Everything Chanel designed was to make women’s life simpler, more comfortable.  From the start of her career, she adopted men’s fabrics like jerseys and Scottish tweeds, men’s tailoring and styling from her lover, the Duke of Westminster to achieve this result.

She used them to liberate women from constricting corsets in the 20’s or the pinched-in waistlines of the Dior New Look’s in the 50’s, so women could move as freely as men when walking or riding.

                                            From Karl Lagerfeld’s Grand Palais fashion show, Grand Palais

The Chanel jacket is still sought after, collected and treasured by women today.

Her iconic 2-toned shoes were designed to make women’s legs look longer. 

I couldn’t resist capturing her silhouette by Man Ray in 
watercolor. The Palais Galliera exhibit is on till March 13, 2021. May the world be a safer place by then 🙏❤️


  1. 💚💚💚💚🇫🇷I just love Chanel! I admit I’m bit obsessed. I appreciate the first peek! An incredible show & I wish so badly that I could be there... I can dream with your posts. I have the Chanel App & I love to watch the runway shows @ Le Grand Palais...I think Karl would be pleased, n’est pas?

  2. You are not alone Mary.
    Do check out the terrific series of videos
    Coco – Inside CHANEL

  3. Such gorgeous clothes...thank you for bringing this exhibit to us, Carol. It looks fabulous. That her clothes are still so iconic after all these years is a real testament to her design.

  4. Love how this starts with the sign on the fence in front of the building...beautiful building! many photos of her clothes! Thank you, thank you!

  5. Dorrance8:18 AM

    Can’t stop reading it, looking at the pictures. I’d kill for one of those jackets (only half kidding

  6. Everyone knows Chanel♥Must be a grand grand show and I love your aquarelles!

  7. There was a time when I tried to emulate the Chanel look with the accessories. The chain quilted bag, the silk flowers at the shoulder and tons of pearls around the neck! I still wear Chanel No.5.

  8. Love the Chanel post, I keep going back to it...see something new every time. This is one exhibit that I really wish that I was there for. Sigh, missing Paris.

  9. You keep seeing new things bc I keep adding them. Still just the tip of the iceberg...Of the mystery of Chamel.

  10. I find Chanel fascinating and love her clothes - so sorry this show will be gone by the time I get there. Thanks so much, Carol, for showing us some of this exhibit. Hugs to Bear.

  11. Wonderful. But what a strange mannequin, first photo, first dress on the left. Yes, models and mannequins are thin and can Strike a Pose, but a hip bone that runs clear across her stomach?

    My favorite photo is of Madam Chanel, at first glance her suit, pose, hat, cigarette. But on second look, it is a fashion show dressing room, extra jackets tossed over a chair, the model in a then less structured girdle, the dresser. I wonder if she had concerns about the reception of her now-classic collection.

  12. That floral dress with the low cat back and buttons. Biggest sigh. And wow -- what a grand centerpiece!

  13. Oh I should have labeled it - the giant jacket is from Karl Lagerfeld’s Grand Palais fashion show.

  14. An especially interesting and wonderful blog today, Carol. Thank you!

  15. no designer of women's clothes is more modern than chanel....& her era. the 40s was about tarting women up again; the 50's, about constricting them in girdles & crinolines.

    but not chanel. she was about freedom of movement, yet her clothes make women look simply beautiful. i've seen women wearing chanel & belanciage suits & i understood why they wud pay all that $ for a 'dress'.

  16. She was an architect of fashion

  17. loved this merci
    Your sketches are fantastic!

  18. they look smashing in those suits, & when they move they look like a million bucks. but the clothing itself is all about comfort & freedom of movement.
    Vive Chanel !

  19. Thanks for sharing this! I love your paintings, very elegant. I spent quite a bit of time watching videos and reading about Chanel after this post, a fascinating woman!

  20. Great post---love that museum and so glad it is open again. I remain slightly optimistic that I'll see it again. Your watercolor of the classic Man Ray is marvelous! And to have Man Ray and Chanel exhibits at the same time! Maybe the Chanel will go on the road....

    Stay well, Carol.

  21. Thanks 365 !
    I was thinking the same thing...but so many of the dresses are très fragile!
    Why we all wished we had flashlights in the dark here.
    I think they will do a ‘prolongation’ as they call it IMHO.


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