Announcing our major new Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel exhibition

Digital Media
May 27, 2022

Opening in September 2023, the V&A is to stage the first UK exhibition dedicated to the work of French couturière, Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel, charting the evolution of her iconic design style and the establishment of the House of CHANEL, from the opening of her first millinery boutique in Paris in 1910 to the showing of her final collection in 1971.

Featuring over 180 looks, seen together for the first time, as well as jewellery, accessories, cosmetics and perfumes, the exhibition will explore Chanel’s pioneering approach to fashion design, which paved the way for a new feminine elegance and continues to influence the way women dress today.

Based upon the Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto exhibition organised by the Palais Galliera, Paris, the exhibition will be re-imagined for the V&A and feature rarely seen pieces from the V&A’s collection, alongside looks from Palais Galliera and the Patrimoine de CHANEL, the heritage collections of the fashion house in Paris. Key pieces on display will include outfits created for British model Anne Gunning (later Lady Nutting) and Hollywood stars Lauren Bacall and Marlene Dietrich.

Left – Suit (Autumn-winter 1963 – 1964), wool tweed, silk pongee, flecked galloon, gilded metal. Paris, Patrimoine de Chanel / Right – Suit (Autumn-winter 1960 – 1961), burg wool, wool braid, silk pongee, gilded metal. Paris, Patrimoine de Chanel  / Image © Julien T. Hamon

Chanel designed first and foremost for herself. By creating clothes fit for an independent and active lifestyle, she anticipated the needs and wants of modern women. Through eight themed sections, the exhibition will explore Chanel’s innovative approach to fabric, silhouette, and construction and will examine how she drafted a new framework for fashion in the twentieth century. Showcasing a stunning array of some of Chanel’s most notable designs from her 60 years in fashion, the exhibition analyses her professional career, the emergence and the development of her style, and her contribution to the history of fashion. The exhibition will also highlight Chanel’s British inspirations, such as her adoption of tweed as well as other British-made textiles.

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As one of the most successful fashion houses in existence, Chanel owes much to the templates first laid down by its founder Gabrielle Chanel, over a century ago. We are delighted to be partnering with Chanel and the Palais Galliera on this exhibition, which provides us with the opportunity to explore the origins and elements of this enduring style and to display little-known historic Chanel garments from the V&A collection.

Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A

Gabrielle Chanel devoted her long life to creating, perfecting and promoting a new kind of elegance based on freedom of movement, a natural and casual pose, a subtle elegance that shuns all extravagances, a timeless style for a new kind of woman. That was her fashion manifesto, a legacy that has never gone out of style. Her success was based not only on the functionality, comfort and chic elegance of her designs, but also on her ability to grasp and interpret the needs and desires of the women of her time.

Miren Arzalluz, Director of the Palais Galliera 

Exhibition presented in partnership with Palais Galliera, Fashion Museum of the City of Paris, Paris Musées

With the support of CHANEL


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