‘Fashion fades, only style remains the same.’
Echoing the sentiment of Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel’s famous words, the Little Black Jacket itself has transcended the whims of fads and fashion to become a true style classic. A new exhibition now at the Saatchi Gallery celebrates the humble design in all its glory.
The stars of Chanel’s Little Black Jacket exhibition – 113 in total – all don the same black tweed jacket. From children to pensioners, musicians to models, every one of them makes the look completely their own. The collection of images styled by fashion editrix Carine Roitfeld and photographed by Karl Lagerfeld highlights the sheer versatility of the jacket, which defies age, gender, size and era.
When Chanel first pioneered the Little Black Jacket in the 1950s, it went against the popular post-war New Look style of full, feminine skirts and nipped-in waists. The boxy shaped design featured a silk lining, functioning pockets and was weighted to hang just right. Not one other item of clothing so succinctly encapsulates a designer’s aesthetic; the Little Black Jacket is the masculine way of dress simultaneously rooted in femininity, which is Chanel’s enduring appeal.
Since Karl Lagerfeld took over the brand in 1982 he has remained true to the roots of the fashion house. He has reinvented the timeless classic again and again – from power shoulders in the ‘80s to cropped, frayed and jewel-coloured styles in more recent seasons. In Coco’s day fashion icons including Jackie Kennedy made a Chanel jacket covetable and current. Nowadays Karl has harnessed fashion’s tastemakers such as Alexa Chung and Poppy Delevigne as Chanel ambassadors, heralding a new generation of style followers lusting after a Little Black Jacket of their own.
‘The Little Black Jacket: Chanel’s Classic Revisited by Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld’ has been touring the world and is in London from 12-28 October. If you’re in any way interested in fashion, I urge you to catch it before it goes! I can’t wait to get my hands on the book – our new coffee table is looking a little lonely after all… The exhibition builds up the cumulative effect of the images – something that can only really be achieved in a gallery environment. Whilst I thought the presentation could have been a bit more substantial, I actually think this lent something to the images’ raw, pared-back style.
Here’s a wee selection of some of my favourite images…