Last week, Paris foremost fashion museum Palais Galleria reopened after two years of undergoing renovation with a retrospective exhibition in honour of French designer, Coco Chanel.
Aptly named ‘Gabrielle Chanel, Fashion Manifesto’ the exhibition chronicles the journey of a woman who broke the glass ceiling in fashion design. It features over 350 dresses, accessories, jewels and scents. The exhibition will run until March of 2021.
Some of the iconic pieces she designed that are on display include hundreds of necklaces, rings and pendants, alongside her trademark 2.55 flap handbag made in the 1950s and ornate jewels Chanel used were a contrast to her minimal style.
The exhibition traces her humble beginnings, from opening a hat shop in 1909 to her first fashion house in 1915, how she survived during the First World War and her fashion throughout the 1930s, which freed women from traditional corset-style garb. There’s also dapper two-piece outfits that set the trends of prewar Europe.
The exhibition highlights the two most important moments in Chanel’s career: the first part evokes her beginnings with a few emblematic pieces, including the famous jersey sailor from 1916 to the sophisticated dresses of the 1930s; the second part invites visitors to decipher her codes.
“The Palais Galliera’s director, Miren Arzalluz, says many publications have looked at the now well-documented biography of Gabrielle Chanel but not her work,” he tells Forbes in an interview. “The public is not aware of his contribution to the history of fashion. It is, therefore, this angle that we had been chosen, in keeping with its mission as a fashion museum, to the exhibition “Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto”, benefiting from the expertise of our scientist team. The purpose of the exhibition is to measure the influence of Gabrielle Chanel in the history of fashion, and not to propose a new portrait or a new biography of Gabrielle Chanel.”
All the pieces presented in the exhibition are emblematic, such as the sailor or the tailors, her Russian inspirations, but also less known parts of her work, such as these muslin dresses printed with floral motifs, his way of using embroidery. “With this selection, we have also tried to show the continuity of her style in the spirit of freedom and comfort, as well as in the cutting work and the range of colours she likes. With Paris as the capital of fashion and haute couture, this exhibition, which is the first retrospective ever presented in Paris, pays tribute to and highlights the work of Gabrielle Chanel, by resituating it in the history of fashion,” adds Arzalluz.