cover image Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto

Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto

Edited by Miren Arzalluz and Véronique Belloir. Thames & Hudson, $60 (304p) ISBN 978-0-50002-346-4

Arzalluz and Belloir, director and curator, respectively, of the Palais Galliera in Paris, present a lush and revealing catalog to accompany the museum’s exhibition on French fashion designer Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel (1883–1971). They credit Chanel with helping to emancipate women from the corset by manipulating fabrics, including jersey and tweed, so that women’s dresses and suits were allowed the same freedom of movement as menswear. Throughout, French fashion historians and journalists celebrate Chanel’s tailoring skills and examine her start as a milliner, the opening of her first maison de couture in 1915 Biarritz, and her time creating costumes for the stage. Chanel’s personal style totems (the cropped haircut, the knitwear, the perfume) are also explored, as is her influence on successive generations of designers, most profoundly Yves Saint Laurent and André Courrèges. The abundant archival photographs include many rare images, and well-selected quotations capture Chanel’s wit and revolutionary aims: When the couturier Paul Poiret, who hobbled women with his tight-bottomed skirt, once encountered Chanel dressed all in black, he asked for whom she was in mourning. “For you, Monsieur,” she replied. The fashion icon’s many fans will cherish this engrossing retrospective of her life and work. (Nov.)