The world of fashion has had many ‘greats’, be it designers, silhouettes or trends. These continue to inspire designers of today and speak of eras brewing with a constant need to conform as well as unshackle norms. Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel — known by the world as Coco Chanel — was one such designer that changed the landscape of fashion with her intrinsic ability to create the unheard-of and deliver it with such ardour that the world would hold its breath in anticipation.
The word ‘iconic’ is often overused that it leaves the subject in question with an extremely adequate and general persona. But for lack of a more appropriate descriptor, ‘iconic’ will have to do. Coco Chanel introduced an entourage of iconic designs of which the Chanel suit is almost mythic. Disregarding the 1920s fashion for women and its constrictive roots, Chanel merged the best of masculine and feminine aesthetic. She created an androgynous look that liberated women with the concept of comfortable yet elegant clothing.
‘I don’t do fashion, I am fashion.’ – Coco Chanel
The collar-less jacket and slim skirt set became the Chanel uniform and was an avant-garde silhouette for women at the time. Mademoiselle Chanel used an unconventional material, tweed, to bring her jacket & skirt duo to life. She used colours, textures and other materials to breathe glamour into the unassuming fabric. Tweed shot to fame instantaneously and even inspired other couture houses in Paris. The fabric still enjoys popularity and is woven into the storied brand’s history.
When Karl Lagerfeld took over, he gave the Chanel suit something it never had, a sense of sensuality that delighted both mature and younger audiences. He transformed the suit and made sure that the classic piece stands as an evergreen symbol of an elegant, empowered and opulent woman. Today, it can be found in a plethora of materials, cuts and designs that keep the past and current trends in mind.
Over the years, the Chanel suit has been donned by women of great stature. Be it from first ladies to celebrated actresses, the suit has charmed women with its diversity and inherent sophistication. It can be worn as separates where the jacket makes for a stately piece, and the tailored skirt can elevate even a simple blouse.
From being considered avant-garde in the 20s to being the aspirational touchstone of elegance today, the Chanel suit has dressed women for over 90 years. To wear one is to award oneself a piece of fashion history that fuses unsurpassed comfort and impeccable luxury.
‘Fashion changes, but style endures.’ – Coco Chanel