Chanel Revisits Dallas : Coco Chanel a Comeback Extraordinaire April 19 2022
Coco Chanel reigns supreme again, reclaiming her premier position as haute couture fashion queen. And what is fascinating , is that in many ways her ultimate glorious return to her former image is attributed to America.
The year was 1954. Christian Dior was the fashion darling of high society and the like, after inventing the ‘The New Look’ in 1947. And along with him—dictating how women should dress—were noted designers such as Cristobal Balenciaga , Piguet, and Jacques Fath. It seemed that Gabrielle Chanel who freed the female body from the shackles of the belle époque—trailblazing the way of design for those endearing male couturiers–had become a have been. Was she to be resigned as a nearly forgotten phase in fashion history?
“Men are not meant to dress women!!!!”–she declared and at the age of 71, plotted to redominate a domain where she rightfully belonged. When she presented her collection in Feb. of 1954, it was her first since emerging from a self imposed lengthy hiatus when she closed shop at the outbreak of world war 2. It was America that accepted her and helped make her famous again. She was once again solidified as a globally recognized fashion phenom and Coco Chanel had finally restored back her celebratory status as the fashion icon of the 20th century.
Simple silk lined boxy tweed jackets weighted by a fine chain and matching skirt allowing fluidity to the female form. Some in jersey and other piecees reminiscent of her initial creations she introduced before ww1. And of course rows of pearls, chain belts and brooches. Leading the pack of rejoicement was Life magazine depicting her collection as harking back to her original design in the 20s and 30s –yet simultaneously current. Fashion inspired by the decades when she was at the height of her fame. The very same reason the French fashion elite and press snubbed her for– declaring her a bygone era. Criticizing her as a thing from the past. Critics had deemed her –an old woman going backward and losing her place in the modernity of current trends. American Vogue later ran a cover collection of the tweed suit and hailed it “The Chanel Look”. All of Hollywood’s finest and societal royalty desired to be dressed in her clothing. The pinnacle of America’s embrace was her receiving the prestigious Dallas Award in 1957 from Stanley Marcus owner of Neiman Marcus department stores. It was bestowed to her in Dallas, Texas–on Stanleys private ranch-proclaiming her as the most influential designers of the 20th century.
Gabrielle’s early originals–I dub as Pure Chanel-were borrowed from stable lads and the men in her life. Oversized knit cardis, striped sweaters, tweeds, jerseys, later quilting..and a shocking audacity of that era-pants. The period when she first defied the belle époque trends in the early 1900s.
The superb Karl Lagerfeld chose Dallas to showcase the M’eitiers d”Art RTW collection—currently in boutiques. A culmination of her true originals , and western attire-were both interestingly intertwined. The Dallas show–demonstrated whatever Chanel was known for. Striped knits, sweaters, quilting, tweeds, cream silks, some fur,a hint of biege and the recreation of the original riding jacket. Also parading the runway were supple leather, denim, and lots of fringe(ode to the west), and naturally pearls, belts, brooches, and jewelery. The iconic star motif ever at the forefront–representing chanel and the lone star state. A magnificent compilation integrating ‘pure chanel’ representing the time when Gabrielle Chanel wore her initial creations–and modernity. All the while acknowledging Americas contribution what made the House of Chanel the uninterrupted fashion authority of all times.
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