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La Chanelphile

October 22, 2008

Douglas Kirkland Coco Chanel 1962

Last Friday, I attended the opening of Westwood Gallery’s exhibition of Douglas Kirkland’s intimate and never before seen photos of Coco Chanel at work taken over 3 weeks in 1962. At the young age of 27, Douglas Kirkland, at the time a staff photographer for Look Magazine, and who is best known for his famous photographs of Marilyn Monroe, spent an unprecedented amount of time behind the scenes with Mademoiselle Chanel capturing her intense daily routine of designing, fitting models, seeing clients and meeting friends.

This exhibition will be open until November 29th, 2008, and I highly recommend seeing it in person if you would like to experience the passionate inner workings of the process of the one and only Coco Chanel.

The photos are also available in this book by Douglas Kirkland, Coco Chanel: Three Weeks 1962.

All photos are copywritten in 1962 by Douglas Kirkland, and printed in 2008. Most of the following photo descriptions came from the gallery, when I could capture them.

Westwood Gallery
568 Broadway, NYC
212-925-5700

Coco Chanel at her private apartment at the House of Chanel


Model Betty Catroux presenting a Chanel outfit, at the House of Chanel. Betty Catroux was the muse of Yves Saint Laurent. This is one of the photographs that Kirkland had to present to Chanel before she gave him permission and access to photograph her.

Model presenting a Chanel outfit at the House of Chanel.


Coco Chanel, models and staff during a celebration after the show in the dressing rooms of the House of Chanel.


Mademoiselle Chanel at work, creating designs for the upcoming August 1962 collections.


Coco Chanel with Douglas Kirkland, during the after party of the fashion presentation, in the dressing rooms of the House of Chanel.


Coco Chanel wearing her most famous accessory, the Chanel sunglasses, on a trip to Versailles together with Douglas Kirkland.


Coco Chanel in the street, walking from the Ritz to the House of Chanel, rue Cambon.


Coco Chanel making the final adjustments on a model before the show.


Coco Chanel at work.


Coco Chanel at her private apartment at the House of Chanel


During the fashion presentation, models show the latest creations of the House of Chanel.


The first time Coco Chanel acknowleged Douglas Kirkland and allowed him to start photographing her in the Atelier and in her private quarters.


Mademoiselle Chanel at work in the Atelier, creating Haute Couture designs for the upcoming August collections.


Coco Chanel on the telephone.


Mademoiselle Chanel at work creating designs for the upcoming August 1962 collections.


She is smoking a Gauloise, a lifelong habit.


Coco Chanel in her private apartment, hiding behind a valuable Coromandel screen, adorned with Camellias, her favorite flower. In the foreground, Chanel model Jackie Rodgers. Mlle Chanel became so comfortable and enamored of the photographer she was playful and relaxed in many photographs.


Coco Chanel in her private apartment at the House of Chanel. She demonstrates to the photographer her favorite restful position.


Coco Chanel with Mme Claude Pompidou, wife of Georges Pompidou, Prime Minister of France, and later President.


Coco Chanel preparing for the Defile (show) of the new collection in the dressing rooms of the House of Chanel, 2nd floor.


Coco Chanel in the Atelier, rue Cambon.


Coco Chanel surrounded by models and staff, during the celebration after the show, in the dressing room at the House of Chanel.


Mademoiselle Chanel was famous for watching the Defile sitting on the stairs and observing the crowd’s reaction through the kaleidoscopic mirrors. The photographer’s reflection can be seen in the mirror.


Coco Chanel walking from the Ritz, her home for 20 years, to the House of Chanel. At first Kirkland decided not to get too close, and observe her from a distance.


Coco Chanel at work, in the dressing rooms of the House of Chanel. Her unique sense of fashion led her to mix costume jewelry with gems and pearls. She designed her own line of costume jewelry inspired by the art deco movement in the 1930’s. Here, she is wearing $69,000 pearls.


Coco Chanel in her private apartment at the House of Chanel, wearing her trademark suit and hat.


Coco Chanel at work, creating designs for the August collection. She explains to Kirkland “I design for the bustline, I want to see the girl underneath the fabric.”


This is Kirkland’s last memory of Chanel, seeing her from a distance on the last day of his trip to Paris, while they were taking a walk in Versailles.


“Chanel No. 5″ by Bryan El Castillo
Oil, mixed media on canvas


Photographer Douglas Kirkland


Douglas Kirkland signs a book for a fan.


The King, and I.
(Rockin’ Mama’s Pearls in honor, that’s right!)

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Filed under: Chanel,Chanel Culture,Coco Chanel — Tags: , , — La Chanelphile @ 4:50 pm

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