Designer 101: Chanel

fashion fades, only style remains the same

I began working on this post initially over a month ago & decided to set it down & mix it up a bit.  This series it’s actually a fair bit of work – skimming through the collections for my favourite pieces, organizing them into a post, researching the house & its designers and finally putting into my own words the history & what the designer means to me.  Chanel has no less than six seasons a year, each of those having approximately 50-100 looks with hundreds if not thousands of pieces.  I took a break to work on some other posts & then couture week happened and now fashion month is in full swing and I was going to come back to it following maybe a few lifestyle and beauty posts as to not overwhelm my content with fashion posts.  In the wake of Karl Lagerfeld’s passing however, I thought it only fitting to put out a piece to commemorate him in time for the showing of his final collection.

I have never been the biggest fan of Lagerfeld.  I think he has said some disgraceful things about women, which he had no place in saying, I also disagree with his stance on fur (Chanel banned it from their collections months before his passing).  That being said, I have immense respect for Lagerfeld as an artist, a designer and his work ethic.  I’ve always been good at separating the two, some would say even to a fault in my personal life.  As mentioned above up until the age of 85, long after most of us have, or will retire he was creating six shows a year each for Chanel & Fendi  as well as the seasonal collections for his eponymous line.  Not to mention the events, photoshoots and other projects he was involved in within the fashion industry.  Historically speaking, those of creative genius are often misunderstood, blunt and irreverent when it comes to others feelings, Lagerfeld was not the exception.  

While this post is on Chanel, the house, I did want to begin with a nod to it’s most recent and longest running designer given the circumstances.  Now, on with the show.

The house of Chanel was founded in 1909 by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel in Paris, France.  Coco was elegant, sophisticated & chic, as her brand has always remained.  She created a fashion label which has become synonymous with black & white, tweed suits & layers of pearls-always decorated with the interlocking C’s.  The house has done an incredible job of amassing a loyal following and creating a definitive brand within the fashion industry – the two C’s are easily one of the most recognizable logo’s within and outside of fashion.  The quilted handbag (a practical design to enforce the fabric for a long-lasting product), tweed suits and cap-toed shoes may have been replicated many times, but they will always belong to Chanel.  Chanel’s staying power and the label’s ability to remain in style decade after decade is owed entirely to its founder.  While Lagerfeld may have kept it fresh, Coco planted the perennial seeds in her classic, well tailored pieces, which look great regardless of time, both in terms of the dresser, and the decade.  

Coco’s objective was to design and create sleek, practical clothing for the modern woman.  She opened her first independent storefront at 31 Rue Cambon in 1910, where it remains today, above which sat her apartment, led up to by the iconic mirrored staircase, where Chanel herself would often sit and watch over the store.  She was one of the first designers to create practical, comfortable clothing for women which retained femininity – the embodiment of the classic Chanel Suit, eternally in style.  The brand eventually branched out to perfumes & cosmetics – which again express the air of elegance.  I started wearing Chanel moisturizer, foundation & Chance fragrance in high school, & it still remains one of my favourite cosmetics lines.  Find me a more iconic fragrance than Coco Mademoiselle, I dare you.

In 1971 Coco Chanel died and it wasn’t until 1983 when Karl Lagerfeld took over.  He has been quoted as saying “What I do Coco would have hated.  The label has an image and it’s up to me to update it.  I do what she never did.  I had to find my mark.  I had to go from what Chanel was to what it should be, could be, what it had been to something else.”.  Lagerfeld certainly kept Chanel up to date, being one of, if not the strongest player(s) in high fashion.  Though the designer stayed true to the black & white, tweed and layers of pearls (I loved the play on this when he brought out a faux candy necklace – you know, like the ones you received in birthday party loot bags as a child, for Fall 2014 RTW) he also took liberties playing with haute couture and impractical clothing which (I have to agree with him) Coco arguably would have hated.  For example, the ridiculous use of fur in the Fall 2010 RTW collection, or the hula hoop bag from Spring 2013 RTW (not going to lie, one of my personal favourite runway moments to date), Lagerfeld was far more playful with the label than Coco ever was.

Even beyond the clothing, Lagerfeld’s Chanel shows were some of the most dazzling exhibitions of creative genius.  As an aside, I highly recommend his episode of Seven Days Out on Netflix, which walks the viewer through the last week leading up to large scale events, in this case being the Chanel Spring 2017 Couture show.  Amongst my favourite Chanel shows has to be Spring 2019 RTW, where models held their quilted bags & beige slingback as they drifted barefoot down the beach alongside rolling waves within Paris’s Grand Pallais.  Lagerfeld’s effect on and creative genius within the fashion industry is undeniable.  Like many greats across industries and disciplines he stands alone in fashion as quite possibly the most influential designer to date.  I am dying to see what they do at Paris Fashion week to commemorate him – but days away, what I would give to be a fly on the wall to see the chaos within the house of Chanel upon his passing only a week before Paris Fashion Week.

Find below my favourite looks & pieces from Lagerfeld’s Chanel shows over the years.  Over the past few days I’ve looked over every single one of his shows from the label from Spring 1994 RTW up until two years ago (if you’re interested in more recent collections check out specific fashion weeks under the fashion tab at the top, where I’ve already curated my favourite pieces).  This exercise really put into perspective the amount of time and energy Lagerfeld poured into these shows.  Not to mention the mental labour it would take to keep the brand as fresh and interesting as he did over the course of thirty-six years.  Even the thought of six shows in one year, let alone thirty-six is overwhelming.  If there’s anything I’ve taken away from his time at Chanel, besides a lifetime of fashion & stye inspiration, it is to keep looking forward, dedicate more time to being productive in my career and to be aware of and prepared for the looming vulnerability in creative roles, that which is becoming stale, repetitive and forgetting what it is I love most about what I do – the inspiration, creativity and innovation.  Karl never seemed to run out of ideas for his shows, each one distinctly different from the next.

The fashion world waits now with bated breath to see in which direction the house of Chanel will be taken by Virginie Viard in the wake of Lagerfeld’s passing.

Spring 1994 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 1994 Spring RTW
Chanel 1994 Spring RTW
Chanel 1994 Spring RTW
Chanel 1994 Spring RTW
Chanel 1994 Spring RTW
Chanel 1994 Spring RTW
Chanel 1994 Spring RTW

Spring 1997 Couture

Chanel 1997 Spring Couture
Chanel 1997 Spring Couture
Chanel 1997 Spring Couture
Chanel 1997 Spring Couture
Chanel 1997 Spring Couture
Chanel 1997 Spring Couture
Chanel 1997 Spring Couture
Chanel 1997 Spring Couture
Chanel 1997 Spring Couture

Spring 1999 Couture

Chanel 1999 Spring Couture
Chanel 1999 Spring Couture
Chanel 1999 Spring Couture
Chanel 1999 Spring Couture

Fall 1999 Couture

Chanel 1999 Fall Couture
Chanel 1999 Fall Couture

Fall 2000 Couture

Chanel 2000 Fall Couture
Chanel 2000 Fall Couture
Chanel 2000 Fall Couture

Spring 2001 Couture

Chanel 2001 Spring Couture
Chanel 2001 Spring Couture
Chanel 2001 Spring Couture

Spring 2002 Couture

Chanel 2002 Spring Couture

Spring 2003 Couture

Chanel 2003 Spring Couture
Chanel 2003 Spring Couture
Chanel 2003 Spring Couture
Chanel 2003 Spring Couture
Chanel 2003 Spring Couture

Fall 2003 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2003 Fall RTW
Chanel 2003 Fall RTW

Spring 2004 Couture

Chanel 2004 Spring Couture
Chanel 2004 Spring Couture
Chanel 2004 Spring Couture
Chanel 2004 Spring Couture
Chanel 2004 Spring Couture
Chanel 2004 Spring Couture

Fall 2004 Couture

Chanel 2004 Fall Couture
Chanel 2004 Fall Couture
Chanel 2004 Fall Couture
Chanel 2004 Fall Couture

Spring 2005 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2005 Spring RTW

Spring 2005 Couture

Chanel 2005 Spring Couture
Chanel 2005 Spring Couture
Chanel 2005 Spring Couture
Chanel 2005 Spring Couture
Chanel 2005 Spring Couture
Chanel 2005 Spring Couture
Chanel 2005 Spring Couture

Fall 2005 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2005 Fall RTW
Chanel 2005 Fall RTW
Chanel 2005 Fall RTW
Chanel 2005 Fall RTW
Chanel 2005 Fall RTW
Chanel 2005 Fall RTW
Chanel 2005 Fall RTW
Chanel 2005 Fall RTW

Fall 2005 Couture

Chanel 2005 Fall Couture
Chanel 2005 Fall Couture

Spring 2006 Couture

Chanel 2006 Spring Couture
Chanel 2006 Spring Couture
Chanel 2006 Spring Couture
Chanel 2006 Spring Couture
Chanel 2006 Spring Couture
Chanel 2006 Spring Couture
Chanel 2006 Spring Couture

Fall 2006 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2006 Fall RTW
Chanel 2006 Fall RTW
Chanel 2006 Fall RTW
Chanel 2006 Fall RTW
Chanel 2006 Fall RTW

Resort 2007

Chanel 2007 Resort

Fall 2006 Couture

Chanel 2006 Fall Couture
Chanel 2006 Fall Couture
Chanel 2006 Fall Couture
Chanel 2006 Fall Couture

Spring 2007 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2007 Spring RTW
Chanel 2007 Spring RTW
Chanel 2007 Spring RTW
Chanel 2007 Spring RTW
Chanel 2007 Spring RTW
Chanel 2007 Spring RTW
Chanel 2007 Spring RTW
Chanel 2007 Spring RTW
Chanel 2007 Spring RTW
Chanel 2007 Spring RTW
Chanel 2007 Spring RTW

Spring 2007 Couture

Chanel 2007 Spring Couture
Chanel 2007 Spring Couture
Chanel 2007 Spring Couture
Chanel 2007 Spring Couture
Chanel 2007 Spring Couture
Chanel 2007 Spring Couture
Chanel 2007 Spring Couture
Chanel 2007 Spring Couture
Chanel 2007 Spring Couture
Chanel 2007 Spring Couture

Fall 2007 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2007 Fall RTW
Chanel 2007 Fall RTW
Chanel 2007 Fall RTW
Chanel 2007 Fall RTW
Chanel 2007 Fall RTW
Chanel 2007 Fall RTW
Chanel 2007 Fall RTW
Chanel 2007 Fall RTW
Chanel 2007 Fall RTW
Chanel 2007 Fall RTW
Chanel 2007 Fall RTW

Resort 2008

Chanel 2008 Resort
Chanel 2008 Resort
Chanel 2008 Resort
Chanel 2008 Resort
Chanel 2008 Resort
Chanel 2008 Resort
Chanel 2008 Resort

Fall 2007 Couture

Chanel 2007 Fall Couture
Chanel 2007 Fall Couture
Chanel 2007 Fall Couture
Chanel 2007 Fall Couture

Spring 2008 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2008 Spring RTW
Chanel 2008 Spring RTW
Chanel 2008 Spring RTW
Chanel 2008 Spring RTW
Chanel 2008 Spring RTW
Chanel 2008 Spring RTW
Chanel 2008 Spring RTW
Chanel 2008 Spring RTW
Chanel 2008 Spring RTW
Chanel 2008 Spring RTW
Chanel 2008 Spring RTW
Chanel 2008 Spring RTW
Chanel 2008 Spring RTW

Pre-Fall 2008

Spring 2008 Couture

Chanel 2008 Spring Couture
Chanel 2008 Spring Couture
Chanel 2008 Spring Couture
Chanel 2008 Spring Couture

Fall 2008 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2008 Fall RTW

Resort 2009

Chanel 2009 Resort
Chanel 2009 Resort
Chanel 2009 Resort
Chanel 2009 Resort
Chanel 2009 Resort
Chanel 2009 Resort
Chanel 2009 Resort
Chanel 2009 Resort

Fall 2008 Couture

Chanel 2008 Fall Couture
Chanel 2008 Fall Couture
Chanel 2008 Fall Couture
Chanel 2008 Fall Couture
Chanel 2008 Fall Couture
Chanel 2008 Fall Couture

Spring 2009 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2009 Spring RTW
Chanel 2009 Spring RTW
Chanel 2009 Spring RTW
Chanel 2009 Spring RTW

Pre-Fall 2009

Chanel 2009 Pre-Fall

Spring 2009 Couture

Chanel 2009 Spring Couture
Chanel 2009 Spring Couture

Fall 2009 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2009 Fall RTW
Chanel 2009 Fall RTW
Chanel 2009 Fall RTW
Chanel 2009 Fall RTW
Chanel 2009 Fall RTW
Chanel 2009 Fall RTW
Chanel 2009 Fall RTW
Chanel 2009 Fall RTW
Chanel 2009 Fall RTW
Chanel 2009 Fall RTW
Chanel 2009 Fall RTW
Chanel 2009 Fall RTW

Resort 2010

Chanel 2010 Resort
Chanel 2010 Resort
Chanel 2010 Resort
Chanel 2010 Resort
Chanel 2010 Resort
Chanel 2010 Resort
Chanel 2010 Resort
Chanel 2010 Resort
Chanel 2010 Resort
Chanel 2010 Resort
Chanel 2010 Resort
Chanel 2010 Resort
Chanel 2010 Resort
Chanel 2010 Resort

Fall 2009 Couture

Chanel 2009 Fall Couture
Chanel 2009 Fall Couture
Chanel 2009 Fall Couture

Spring 2010 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2010 Spring RTW
Chanel 2010 Spring RTW
Chanel 2010 Spring RTW
Chanel 2010 Spring RTW
Chanel 2010 Spring RTW
Chanel 2010 Spring RTW
Chanel 2010 Spring RTW
Chanel 2010 Spring RTW
Chanel 2010 Spring RTW
Chanel 2010 Spring RTW
Chanel 2010 Spring RTW
Chanel 2010 Spring RTW
Chanel 2010 Spring RTW
Chanel 2010 Spring RTW
Chanel 2010 Spring RTW

Spring 2010 Couture

Chanel 2010 Spring Couture
Chanel 2010 Spring Couture
Chanel 2010 Spring Couture
Chanel 2010 Spring Couture
Chanel 2010 Spring Couture
Chanel 2010 Spring Couture
Chanel 2010 Spring Couture
Chanel 2010 Spring Couture
Chanel 2010 Spring Couture
Chanel 2010 Spring Couture
Chanel 2010 Spring Couture

Fall 2010 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2010 Fall RTW
Chanel 2010 Fall RTW
Chanel 2010 Fall RTW
Chanel 2010 Fall RTW
Chanel 2010 Fall RTW
Chanel 2010 Fall RTW
Chanel 2010 Fall RTW

Resort 2011

Chanel 2011 Resort
Chanel 2011 Resort
Chanel 2011 Resort
Chanel 2011 Resort
Chanel 2011 Resort
Chanel 2011 Resort
Chanel 2011 Resort
Chanel 2011 Resort
Chanel 2011 Resort
Chanel 2011 Resort
Chanel 2011 Resort
Chanel 2011 Resort
Chanel 2011 Resort
Chanel 2011 Resort

Spring 2011 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2011 Spring RTW
Chanel 2011 Spring RTW
Chanel 2011 Spring RTW
Chanel 2011 Spring RTW
Chanel 2011 Spring RTW
Chanel 2011 Spring RTW

Spring 2011 Couture

Chanel 2011 Spring Couture
Chanel 2011 Spring Couture
Chanel 2011 Spring Couture
Chanel 2011 Spring Couture
Chanel 2011 Spring Couture
Chanel 2011 Spring Couture
Chanel 2011 Spring Couture
Chanel 2011 Spring Couture

Fall 2011 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2011 Fall RTW
Chanel 2011 Fall RTW
Chanel 2011 Fall RTW
Chanel 2011 Fall RTW
Chanel 2011 Fall RTW
Chanel 2011 Fall RTW
Chanel 2011 Fall RTW

Resort 2012

Chanel 2012 Resort
Chanel 2012 Resort
Chanel 2012 Resort
Chanel 2012 Resort
Chanel 2012 Resort

Spring 2012 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2012 Spring RTW
Chanel 2012 Spring RTW
Chanel 2012 Spring RTW
Chanel 2012 Spring RTW
Chanel 2012 Spring RTW

Pre-Fall 2012

Chanel 2012 Pre-Fall

Resort 2013

Chanel 2013 Resort
Chanel 2013 Resort
Chanel 2013 Resort
Chanel 2013 Resort
Chanel 2013 Resort
Chanel 2013 Resort
Chanel 2013 Resort
Chanel 2013 Resort
Chanel 2013 Resort
Chanel 2013 Resort
Chanel 2013 Resort
Chanel 2013 Resort
Chanel 2013 Resort

Spring 2013 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2013 Spring RTW
Chanel 2013 Spring RTW

Pre-Fall 2013

Chanel 2013 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2013 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2013 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2013 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2013 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2013 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2013 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2013 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2013 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2013 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2013 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2013 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2013 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2013 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2013 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2013 Pre-Fall

Spring 2013 Couture

Chanel 2013 Spring Couture
Chanel 2013 Spring Couture
Chanel 2013 Spring Couture
Chanel 2013 Spring Couture
Chanel 2013 Spring Couture

Fall 2013 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2013 Fall RTW
Chanel 2013 Fall RTW

Resort 2014

Chanel 2014 Resort
Chanel 2014 Resort
Chanel 2014 Resort
Chanel 2014 Resort
Chanel 2014 Resort
Chanel 2014 Resort

Fall 2013 Couture

Pre-Fall 2014

Chanel 2014 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2014 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2014 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2014 Pre-Fall

Spring 2014 Couture

Chanel 2014 Spring Couture
Chanel 2014 Spring Couture
Chanel 2014 Spring Couture
Chanel 2014 Spring Couture
Chanel 2014 Spring Couture
Chanel 2014 Spring Couture
Chanel 2014 Spring Couture

Fall 2014 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2014 Fall RTW
Chanel 2014 Fall RTW
Chanel 2014 Fall RTW
Chanel 2014 Fall RTW
Chanel 2014 Fall RTW
Chanel 2014 Fall RTW

Resort 2015

Chanel 2015 Resort
Chanel 2015 Resort
Chanel 2015 Resort
Chanel 2015 Resort

Fall 2014 Couture

Chanel 2014 Fall Couture
Chanel 2014 Fall Couture
Chanel 2014 Fall Couture

Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2015 Spring RTW
Chanel 2015 Spring RTW
Chanel 2015 Spring RTW
Chanel 2015 Spring RTW
Chanel 2015 Spring RTW
Chanel 2015 Spring RTW
Chanel 2015 Spring RTW

Pre-Fall 2015

Chanel 2015 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2015 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2015 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2015 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2015 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2015 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2015 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2015 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2015 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2015 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2015 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2015 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2015 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2015 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2015 Pre-Fall

Spring 2015 Couture

Chanel 2015 Spring Couture
Chanel 2015 Spring Couture
Chanel 2015 Spring Couture
Chanel 2015 Spring Couture
Chanel 2015 Spring Couture
Chanel 2015 Spring Couture
Chanel 2015 Spring Couture
Chanel 2015 Spring Couture
Chanel 2015 Spring Couture

Fall 2015 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2015 Fall RTW
Chanel 2015 Fall RTW
Chanel 2015 Fall RTW
Chanel 2015 Fall RTW
Chanel 2015 Fall RTW
Chanel 2015 Fall RTW

Resort 2016

Fall 2015 Couture

Chanel 2015 Fall Couture
Chanel 2015 Fall Couture

Spring 2016 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2016 Spring RTW

Pre-Fall 2016

Chanel 2016 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2016 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2016 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2016 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2016 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2016 Pre-Fall

Spring 2016 Couture

Chanel 2016 Spring Couture
Chanel 2016 Spring Couture
Chanel 2016 Spring Couture
Chanel 2016 Spring Couture
Chanel 2016 Spring Couture

Fall 2016 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2016 Fall RTW
Chanel 2016 Fall RTW
Chanel 2016 Fall RTW
Chanel 2016 Fall RTW

Resort 2017

Chanel 2017 Resort
Chanel 2017 Resort
Chanel 2017 Resort
Chanel 2017 Resort
Chanel 2017 Resort
Chanel 2017 Resort

Fall 2016 Couture

Chanel 2016 Fall Couture
Chanel 2016 Fall Couture

Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2017 Spring RTW
Chanel 2017 Spring RTW

Pre-Fall 2017

Chanel 2017 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2017 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2017 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2017 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2017 Pre-Fall

Spring 2017 Couture

Chanel 2017 Spring Couture
Chanel 2017 Spring Couture
Chanel 2017 Spring Couture
Chanel 2017 Spring Couture

Fall 2017 Ready-to-Wear

Chanel 2017 Fall RTW
Chanel 2017 Fall RTW

Resort 2018

Chanel 2018 Resort
Chanel 2018 Resort

Fall 2017 Couture

Chanel 2017 Fall Couture

Pre-Fall 2018

Chanel 2018 Pre-Fall
Chanel 2018 Pre-Fall

Spring 2017 Couture

Chanel 2018 Spring Couture

Share your thoughts with me in the comments.  What were your favourite Chanel shows, or pieces?  Were you a fan of Lagerfeld, or put off by his unapologetic opinions?

Photos courtesy of Vogue.com

xx Sheila

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