I just finished reading The Gospel According to Coco Chanel by Karen Karbo. It is humorously written and joins a stable of other books and films on this icon of fashion.
Chanel died in 1971 at the age of 87 having influenced women’s fashion more than any other designer. Much of her success was due to the two wars the world experienced while she was young. Her simpler, easier to wear clothes and pants for heaven’s sake met the changing needs as women joined the work force. They found corsets, restricting feminine dresses and huge hats requiring a mound of hair to keep balanced impossible in the workplace. Coco adapted her ideas from the closets of her various boyfriends and the simpler styles were perfect for her rectangular figure. She was her own best advertisement.
Chanel was known for her pronouncements on style, many of which contradicted each other! “Fashion fades, only style remains, and I am style,” is one of her most noted. I thought it would be fun to quote some of the fashion edicts attributed to Chanel as we close one year and look forward to the New Year and what fashion has to offer.
She said elegance equates to luxury, which must be invisible and must be felt. Luxury is simple and the opposite of complication. It is the opposite of vulgarity or status. “Luxury is liberty. Luxury is elegance.”
“And then modern times were upon us, and luxury was no more, according to Chanel. Women went to dinner in dirty pants and a man’s shirt. Luxury was replaced by squalor. And Coco said fashion is always a reflection of its own time, but we forget this when it is stupid. …And if a dress is shaped like a bubble, a barrel, or any other form that does not conform to your body, you must tear it from your body.
And if the dress is well formed but also brings to mind a bed sheet, a linen napkin, or a tarp, which may also be used to cover the vessel parked in your driveway, you must tear it from your body.
And if you were to wear pants that rest so low upon the hips that which is called a muffin top is created, you must tear it from your body, and if you wear pants that rest so low upon your hips that upon sitting the cheeks of your buttocks are revealed, you must tear it from your body, for it offends me, also the multitude who pass behind you.”
I am not sure if this is actually quoted from Chanel or what the author thought she would have about today’s styles. There is, however, a ring of truth when we reflect on recent fashion offerings. “It is better to possess a few elegant pieces in which one feels at ease” than to follow fashion trends that simply don’t work.
Happy New Year to all!