Sunday, March 2, 2014

Style Essentials 3: The Little Tweed Jacket

The elements
  1. A straight fluid (no interfacing) cut to allow freedom of movement.
  2. Four functional pockets.
  3. Embellishment with braids in the same colour or contrasting.
  4. Functional buttons stamped with the symbol of the house.
  5. Weighted by a light chained sewn to the silk lining to ensure the jacket falls perfectly.
Modern takes include different materials and cuts, but you can still tell a Chanel inspired jacket when you see one.

Week 9: Chanel Jacket

The Chanel Tweed Jacket by Caroline Grant. Most versions of this little jacket, first created by Coco Chanel in 1954, are in tweed, but there are modern versions of it in leather, brocade and other materials. In this example, you have a different neckline but still the flecked material, the flat square pockets and the trimming  (here, as an undone hem that creates a different texture) that characterizes this classic.

Chanel Jacket / Red Valentino Skirt / Hobbs Ella Blouse / Söfft Moselle Shoes / Ann Taylor Calfhair Clutch Handbag / Kenzo Hat (vintage) / Kate Spade New York Dot Scarf / Kenneth Jay Lane Teardrop Earrings / NARS Lipstick in Nude Vanille / YSL Nail Lacquer in Sorbet Fraise.

An established classic
There is no denying the importance for womenswear of Chanel's 1920s creation, the suit for women. It was composed of two or three pieces, just like men's, and it would give women the same freedom of movement men had already been enjoying for quite some time in their clothes.
The suit did not receive any significant updates until the 1950s, maybe edged on by Dior's New Look. Dior proposed a conservative view of femininity, a flower-like woman that was ready to return home, where her real "job" was - not on the factory line, or in the intelligence services, or flying and repairing aircrafts as they had as part of the war effort. Chanel updated her suit and, with it, the idea of an independent woman.
Admittedly, his silhouette - the tiny waist, the full skirt - and concept took precedence over hers in the 1950s and first half of the 1960s, but Chanel's suit would gradually become the modern, professional but chic, option for women.
We also owe Mme Chanel two other style classics: the quilted handbag and the modern use of pearls (ie. fake, baroque and in quantities), but there any acknowledgement must stop, in my opinion. The fact that she was a Nazi collaborationist in occupied France, in a long relationship with a Nazi intelligence officer before and after WW2 (convincing evidence has also been  found that she was an actual spy for Nazi Germany) and that she was a life long antisemite makes any expression of admiration impossible for me. She is not the first figure in fashion that looks quite repugnant when looked up close, as evidenced by the recent documentaries on Valentino and Lagerfeld, or the disquieting comments from Galliano or Terry Richardson's repugnant work for American Apparel. For the latter, just type "American Apparel ads" into your search engine (or click here) and prepare to try to hold on to your breakfast. Then please go and sign the petition to stop brands hiring him here.

Follow the label Style Essentials. It's pretty new, but will grow stronger every passing week.

  • You can watch a video about Chanel's jacket and other creations at Inside Chanel.
  •  The Exchange: Coco Chanel and the Nazi Party, posted by James McAuley September 1, 2011 in The New Yorker.
  • Valentino: The Last Emperor (2008), directed by Matt Tyrnauer.
  • Lagerfeld Confidential (2007), directed by Rodolphe Marconi.
  • John Galliano sacked by fashion house Dior, March 1 2011 at BBC News.
  • Stop hiring Terry Richarson petition at

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