Following her mandate that "luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury", she singlehandedly upended many prevailing fashion mores including restrictive bodices (out!), claustrophobic corsets (non!) and most shockingly, circumvented wartime restrictions on fine fabrics by using jersey knit - which, prior to Hurricane Gabrielle, had been exclusively reserved for men's underwear. "In creating a wardrobe for herself, Chanel invented an idea of the modern woman," notes Harold Koda, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. "The work of Gabrielle Chanel, with its acknowledgment of the realities of women in the 20th century, was an elegantly conceptualized modernism."
Along with stealing sartorially from the boys and transforming their threads into deceptively simple/elegant womenswear sold at an undeceptively steep pricepoint, her impact on the industry was so profound she was the only couturier to make the Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century. (If you LOVE your LBD, you have Chanel to thank...until she made them de rigeur, they were solely for mourning.)
"The bare facts of Chanel's life—deprived of the autobiographical embellishments she evolved over time and the conjecture of others—are dramatic, but spare," continues Koda. "Therefore it is her work, which transcended class barriers and revolutionized the ideals of dress, that is the ultimate testament to her life." Which, despite an inauspicious start - born to an unwed mother, a laundrywoman, in 1883, and her teenage years spent in a convent for orphans - she utterly transformed herself, starting when she began "socializing" (um okay sleeping) her way up the social food-chain. With financial backing from one of her boyfriends, she went into business in 1910 as a Parisian milliner located at 21 Rue Cambon (one of her hat designs at left). Only later did she diversify into fashion, selling luxe-casual clothing to well-heeled vacationers in Deauville.
For the second Jane by Design blogger Style Challenge #2 (CLICK HERE to check out the results of Challenge #1, a video I made after I went shopping), the instructions were to take a plain white tee they provided and transform it into something fabulous - inspired by my fashion icon. Who is your Style Icon? Why not weigh in on the JANE BY DESIGN Facebook page & be sure to mention Fashiontribes in your post. If you tweet it, use the hashtag #JBDStyleChallenge & let me know so I can RT you! (If you're in need of additional inspiration, check out this sneak-peek video clip from the show.)
In addition to inspiration from my style icon, the tee was also supposed to be customized with items from around the office or house. In my accessories stash, I found a fabulous fuchsia hair flower (the shape of which reminded me of Coco's fave bloom, the camellia) as well as a multi-strand black "pearl" necklace from H&M I hadn't worn in a long time. Ah! A black version of Chanel's signature jewelry: pearls! (She had a lot of real jewelry - tokens from her various lovers - and her iconic Verdura Maltese cross cuffs, above, were a way she came up with to put some of this loot to good use.) Rifling through my drawer of tees also uncovered a black one destined for the thrift store.
Voila! Time to create something wonderful. I put on my Designer Hat, brushed up on my fashitude and waited for the spirit of Chanel to whisper in my ear.
"Avec an acksont of, how you say, ah oui....ought peenk. Fabulous, non? Et tres clessy, too!" (This ghost, or should I say "zees" even paraphrased one of the quotes the non-dead designer was particularly famous for, so that's how I knew for sure it was her.)
When the ghost of Gabrielle issues marching orders, I obey. So a black and white animal print with a touch of hot pink it would be.
Then, using fabric markers that had arrived with the tee, I decorated it with a zebra pattern.
I then sacrificed the black tee, cutting off the cap sleeves & hem to trim the white tee. The body of the black tee was further divided into a bunch of 6"' circles which got "spiralized" into long strips, stretched out & attached piece by piece onto the neckline.
Lastly, the black "pearl" necklace was chopped up into various lengths to add texture and movement to the dangly scarf-trim. The strand with the thickest beads was draped that so it encircled the shoulders.
Finally, I fixed everything in place with the pink flower.
A fun embellished homage-to-Coco in a tee.
- Lesley Scott
So don't forget:
- Who is your style icon? Tell the world on the Jane by Design FB page
- Don't forget to mention Fashiontribes in any of your FB updates.
- If you tweet about it, use the hashtag #JBDStyleChallenge and make sure to let me know - I'm @Fashiontribes on Twitter - so I can RT you!
(images: Chanel hat & Chanel in 1920 - via source)