Chanel has just released Chapter 3 of the “Inside Chanel” video series. The third installment is called Mademoiselle Chanel et le Diamant which translates to Mademoiselle Chanel and the Diamond. The video focuses on the one and only fine jewelery collection that Coco Chanel designed in 1932 – and that celebrated its 80th anniversary last year with a retrospective collection and traveling exhibit. Learn more about the game-changing exhibit below…
January 28, 2013
January 21, 2013
Last week I wrote about the Culture Chanel exhibit in Guangzhou, China. The exhibit is now open and WWD had some great coverage of Culture Chanel. Here are some images from the exhibit, one of my favorite items is Mademoiselle Chanel’s door and her personal effects. Take a look below…
Photos by Joyce Yung for WWD
January 15, 2013
In 2011 Chanel opened a Culture Chanel exhibit in China at Shanghai’s MOCA. The exhibit took a biographical approach and looked at events in Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s life and how they influenced her life’s works. On Wednesday, Chanel is opening the second installment of the Culture Chanel exhibit at the Guangzhou Opera House.
The Guangzhou Opera House was designed by Zaha Hadid, who if you remember, also designed the Chanel Mobile Art Pavillion. The decision of venue is an indication of the direction of the exhibit which Chanel explains as an exploration of “the behaviours and attitudes that set this style in motion and that the Chanel designers apply today, giving Chanel a timeless contemporary quality.”
Coco Chanel’s fearlessness and independence “allowed women to breathe, move, love, dream, and invent their life as a woman.” As such, the exhibit is split up into these categories to delve into the world of Coco Chanel’s creative process, and her relationships with avant garde artists of the time including Jean Cocteau, Amadeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Raymond Radiguet, and Pierre Reverdy.
Art Director Jean-Louis Froment, curator of the Culture Chanel exhibit stated: “It is a unique history that intertwines and may merge with history as a whole. It is the creation of a language that goes from Gabrielle Chanel’s timeline to the line of creations that the brand has to offer today.”
Today Chanel released a video of the behind-the-scenes preview of the Culture Chanel exhibit. In the video, we see the hanging of “Le Train Bleu” by Pablo Picasso. “Le Train Bleu” was a ballet by the Ballets Russes where Pablo Picasso painted the backdrop and Coco Chanel designed the costumes. This was but one example of Coco Chanel’s collaboration with the leading thinkers and artists of her time.
I wish I was going to be in Guangzhou so I could see this exhibit! If you are there in the next few months here are the details of the exhibit:
In collaboration with the Guangdong Museum of Art and the Guangzhou Opera House Chanel presents Culture Chanel.
Guangzhou Opera House
No 1, Zhujiang Xi Lu, Zhujiang New Town, Tianhe District,
510623 Guangzhou, China
January 16, 2013 – March 3, 2013
Opening hours: 10 am to 7 pm, Monday to Sunday
Free admission upon presentation of valid ID
Jean-Louis Froment will present a wide – audience lecture to enhance the visit.
In the auditorium of the Opera House – January 16 2013 at 3pm
Free admission – Advanced booking required
December 11, 2012
The past few years have been difficult for any admirer of Coco Chanel as her name has been slandered and libeled in conversations, supposed biographies and online. Uneducated accusations have flown that Coco Chanel was a Nazi, while anyone who either knew her or has researched her life with integrity has come to very different conclusions.
You may remember a while back I posted about Chanel’s only interview about WWII conducted by Malcolm Muggeridge, an MI6 agent. If you have not yet read the interview, I found it highly informative and most convincing since it’s the only evidence regarding Coco Chanel’s actions during WWII that are based on her word and not assumption and conjecture. You can read the interview by clicking this link: Coco Chanel – Malcolm Muggeridge Interview.
I recently learned of the Baudelaire Society’s intention to release a documentary film and/or book next year to further shed light on the evidence in Coco Chanel’s defense. From the letter below, it appears that Isée St. John Knowles, the President of the Société Baudelaire, will work with Gabrielle Chanel’s living great-niece Gabrielle Labrunie. I look forward to seeing what they produce and I will be sure to share it with you.
November 28, 2012
The internet is abuzz with rumor of who is going to be at the upcoming Chanel Métiers d’Art Paris-Edimbourg on December 4th. We know Karl’s muses and Les Fidèles de Chanel will probably be in attendance but most people are wondering whether Chanel’s latest brand ambassador – Brad Pitt and partner Angelina Jolie – will be in attendance. I have no word but we can only guess at this point.
What we do know is that Chanel has posted up twelve tents outside Linlithgow Palace. I’m thinking this area is the backstage/production areas as Chanel has stated that the show will take place within the walls of the palace. Some have surmised the show would take place in the Palace’s courtyard – in much the same way that the Cruise 2013 show was show in the gardens at Versailles. Scotland can be chilly this time of year and Chanel has been rumored to have commissioned a glass roof for the Palace courtyard.
And since we’re on the topic of rumor and speculation, I thought I would throw out some ideas of what we may see on December 4th. Coco Chanel’s connection to Scotland is through the Duke of Westminster with whom she had an affair in the 1920′s. She often borrowed from menswear and always found inspiration in her lovers’ closets. From the Duke of Westminster she found tweed, cashmere and bold jewels (in the form of lavish gifts). She also spent much of her time in Scotland outdoors and especially loved horseback riding and fishing. Based on Coco Chanel’s experiences in Scotland and the recent purchase of Barrie Knitwear, I presume we will see a lot of knitwear, as well as tweed and sporting influences accompanied by eye-catching jewelry and accessories we have to come to expect from a Chanel show.
Since the presentation will take place within the walls of Linlithgow Palace I think there is a chance that Karl Lagerfeld will be inspired by Mary Queen of Scots since the palace was her birthplace. As we saw in the Chanel Resort 2013 collection at Versailles, Karl Lagerfeld was influenced by the fashions of Marie Antoinette. I could see Karl Lagerfeld taking inspiration from Mary Queen of Scots – especially the large white collars she wore – as Coco Chanel herself was inspired by them. We’ll know for sure next week.
November 13, 2012
November 8, 2012
In 1913, Chanel opened her boutique in the French resort town of Deauville. To commemorate the 100th anniversary, Chanel will host the upcoming Chanel Resort 2014 collection in Deauville. Karl Lagerfeld told WWD: “My idea is to hire a train, have dinner on the train, do the show in a ballroom and go back at night,” he said. (WWD) What a wonderful way to commemorate the anniversary!
Chanel has also announced that the next Métiers d’Art show will take place in December at a secret location in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Vogue UK) A few months ago I wrote about how Rosehall, an estate that Coco Chanel shared with the Duke of Westminster that was being converted into a hotel. When I first heard that the Métiers d’Art show was taking place in Scotland my first thought was that it would take place at Rosehall. Alas, the show is taking place in Edinburgh and I can only imagine that it’s because Rosehall is in the countryside in Northern Scotland. I would be surprised though if having the show in Scotland was not influenced at all by the time she spent there with the Duke of Westminster.
October 30, 2012
As part of researching Coco Chanel’s relationship with the Société Baudelaire I had the honor of conducting an exclusive interview with Isée St. John Knowles, the President of the Société Baudelaire. I asked him questions about Coco Chanel’s activities with the Société Baudelaire as well as the Muggeridge interview. Please read the interview below…
Exclusive Interview with Isée St. John Knowles, President, Société Baudelaire
Did you ever have occasion to meet Mlle. Chanel? If so, what could you tell us about her that may not be apparent from photos and biographies? If not, what characteristics did the Société Baudelaire see in her that led them to consider her as candidate for the Honorary Presidency of the Société Baudelaire?
I never had the fortune to meet Coco Chanel, although this could have been arranged. I was a mere 19 years old when she died. Nevertheless, I have researched Chanel for many years, especially her experience of the war. Doubtless, I was impelled by the need to answer the question of Chanel’s Baudelairean authenticity. Why did Baudelaire scholars so seriously entertain her candidature for the Société Baudelaire Honorary Presidency? For Chanel herself would have disavowed any claim to being a Baudelairean exegete. Even her personal library yields no evidence of her ever having read a single critical work on Baudelaire. She had, however, read the author himself and discussed his thinking with leading Société Baudelaire authorities. Moreover, in her own ineffable way, she venerated Baudelaire even before having debated his work. In her conviction, Baudelaire stood for values which she herself had upheld in all her trials from girlhood onwards. She believed that Baudelaire’s insights conferred meaning on her own tragedies, giving her the strength to triumph over them. Not even Chanel’s detractors during the Société’s election campaign would ever have questioned her authenticity as a Baudelairean.
Are you familiar with Hal Vaughan’s recent biography of Coco Chanel, Sleeping With the Enemy? How do you respond to his accusations?
Yes, I am conversant both with Hal Vaughan’s work and with almost all the key documents upon which he constructed his case. For decades, in point of fact, these documents were known to the Société Baudelaire. You ask me how I would respond to his book: in order to sell well, an author needs to simplify the arguments. He must fight shy of historic complexities – abhorred by the average media man. Bear in mind, on the other hand, that the Chanel war story is an intricate puzzle, with many missing pieces, including dates that often defy precision and may even conflict. On such insecure foundations as these, establishing the facts will always be a challenge, and one that must be faced. You will readily appreciate the perplexity of the historian’s task in uncovering the truth about the Chanel war story when I stress that, from Vaughan’s own documentation, conclusions can legitimately be inferred about Chanel’s war conduct that are at variance – and sometimes radically in conflict – with his own. To summarise, if Vaughan has set out objectively-presented facts for his reader, his publication may be regarded as a genuine search for historical truth. If, on the other hand, it puts a construction on the facts adduced such as to infer Chanel’s purported guilt of treason and anti-Semitism, then the book should be read as a fiction targeting desperate American housewives.
Does Hal Vaughan know of the Muggeridge interview? If so, how has Hal Vaughan responded to knowledge of the Muggeridge interview of Coco Chanel?
I concede – reluctantly – that neither Vaughan nor any professional historian can fairly be taxed with failing to include the Muggeridge interview with Chanel held in September 1944. For Muggeridge himself used every possible device to deter future historians. At the meeting, he conceived an aversion for Chanel and, in his memoirs, intentionally minimised her significance. Even so, the Rue Cambon meeting provided the underlying themes for his play, Liberation. Only a historian who knew Muggeridge well – as I did – could have discovered in his compendious archives the unedited version of the Chanel interview. Through my agency, Muggeridge acquainted with its existence Jacques Soustelle and other informed witnesses, and only in its edited version. The unabridged version, which also referred to a third person’s relationship with Muggeridge, was destroyed.
Does the Société Baudelaire retain any of the sketches of Chanel’s Flowers of Evil collection or any information on the plans for the fragrance?
Some sketches for gowns chosen by Chanel to feature in her proposed collection on the Flowers of Evil were published in various fashion journals of the day. At the time, there was no inkling of their future use by the designer to interpret Baudelaire’s poems. Given minimal research into Chanel archives, the aborted fashion show for which they were intended could be reconstructed. Chanel passed on to the Baudelairean painter Limouse the full arguments justifying her choice of poems. For the fragrance, the Société was involved from its conception to its naming by Chanel.
In your opinion, does the House of Chanel still embody the philosophy of the Baudelairean Dandy?
Sadly, with Chanel’s passing, the philosophy of the Baudelairean Dandy has been altogether superseded by the cult of celebrity, as practised by the couturiers of our day. Baudelairean Dandyism is solely concerned with the disinterested aspiration of a singularly noble mind to live according to the highest ideals. And in that, Coco Chanel excelled.
October 29, 2012
A few months ago I came across a website devoted to Coco Chanel created by the Société Baudelaire. I was intrigued because I didn’t understand the connection between Coco Chanel and Charles Baudelaire, a preeminent 19th-century French poet. Upon further investigation, I realized how closely the two were linked.
Coco Chanel Discovers Charles Baudelaire
Coco Chanel became acquainted with the work of Charles Baudelaire through her love, Boy Capel, who introduced a poem called “Bludgeon the Poor” to her. For the full text of “Assommons les Pauvres!” or, “Bludgeon the Poor!” visit the French Poetry Blog. As harsh as the title may seem, the poem is about integrity and redemption and probably struck a chord with Coco Chanel who came from an impoverished background.
Coco Chanel and the Société Baudelaire
Chanel later came in contact with the Société Baudelaire later through another one of her loves the Duke of Westminster who was a Dandy (a term that Baudelaire defined). Since Dandyism has so much to do with one’s appearance and dress, Chanel wanted to be included among the designers who defined French Elegance. She brought sketches of existing designs that she felt illustrated women in several poems to the Société Baudelaire. Dubbed the Flowers of Evil collection (after a book of poems by Baudelaire), she was working on a presentation of the collection, and even a fragrance, both of which did not come to pass unfortunately. Notwithstanding, Coco Chanel began a long relationship with the Société Baudelaire that culminated with her running for president of the Société Baudelaire.
Since Coco Chanel had such a close relationship to the Société Baudelaire, it then made more sense to me why they would create a website devoted to Coco Chanel. Shortly after I found out about the website, I was contacted by a representative of the Société Baudelaire who informed me of another website created by the Société dubbed Chanel’s War, the website publishes the transcript of an interview between Coco Chanel and Malcolm Muggeridge.
Coco Chanel Interview by Malcolm Muggeridge
Malcolm Muggeridge was an MI6 agent, and the only one who interviewed Coco Chanel about her WWII activities. The interview took place in France in 1944 and for the first time, this interview is available to the public to read. In light of distasteful accusations against Coco Chanel made by authors such as Hal Vaughn, the Société Baudelaire felt compelled to defend “the goddess of Baudelairean Dandyism”. The interview is introduced by Gabrielle Labrunie (Chanel’s great-niece and author of ‘Intimate Chanel‘) and features a recent testimony from her about the interview. You can read the full Muggeridge interview of Coco Chanel about her WWII activities in full on the Chanel-Muggeridge.com.
Since it’s in her own words, I find this the most convincing evidence of her WWII activities and I am not convinced by Hal Vaughn’s arguments. I invite you to read the interview yourself and come to your own conclusions. I would love to hear some of your responses below in the comments.
Tomorrow, I will share an interview I had the honor of conducting with Isée St. John Knowles, the President of the Société Baudelaire.
October 12, 2012
Earlier this week Chanel hosted a dinner to open the NYC exhibit of the 80th Anniversary of the Chanel 1932 Bijoux de Diamants. I’ve been searching online to see as many pieces as possible and though I haven’t found all eighty, I have found some dazzling pieces that are exquisite. Taking inspiration from the things that inspired Coco Chanel, the collection features the sun, comets, feathers, fringes and ribbons/knots. The jewelry is mesmerizing and I’ve been looking at it all day and can look at it for days to come. I also came across some great videos including one featuring actual footage of the 1932 collection. The voice over is in French but there are some great shots in there. Enjoy!