'Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto': a retrospective exhibition at the Palais Galliera, Paris

After closing for two years for extension work, the Palais Galliera is reopening its doors on October 1, 2020 with the retrospective 'Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto', running until March 14, 2021.

The exhibition 'Gabrielle Chanel, Fashion Manifesto' at Paris' Palais Galliera is the first retrospective dedicated to this extraordinary seamstress and designer to be held in France.

As early as 1912, in Deauville, Biarritz and Paris, Gabrielle Chanel (1883-1971) revolutionised the world of couture, enlisting Paul Poiret - who until then dominated women's fashion - to imprint on the bodies of her contemporaries a real fashion manifesto, the theme of this presentation.

Step into a timeless universe of style across 1,500 m² of the museum, including the new galleries open on the ground floor.

The sailor top, N°5 and the little black dress

The exhibition contains over 350 pieces from the collections of Galliera, Chanel Heritage, international museums, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the De Young Museum in San Francisco, the Museo de la Moda in Santiago de Chile and the MoMu in Antwerp, as well as from private collections.

The exhibition is designed chronologically, to understand the evolution of the work and the inventive spirit of this legendary fashion designer. The first part evokes its beginnings, with some emblematic pieces including the famous 1916 sailor jersey.

It then traces the evolution of Chanel's 'chic allure' style from her little black dresses and sporty numbers from the Roaring Twenties to the sophisticated dresses of the 1930s. Considered to be the quintessence of the 'Coco' Chanel spirit, one of the rooms is dedicated to the famous N°5 perfume that she created in 1921.

Tweed suit, two-tone pump, quilted bag, black and beige...

The thematic second part of the exhibition presents other iconic items with which Chanel made her name: the braided tweed suit, the two-tone pump, the 2.55 quilted bag (in black and beige of course, but also red, white and gold), and the fine and costume jewellery that became inseparable from the silhouette of 'Madame Chanel'.

Ten photographic portraits of the designer punctuate the scenography, highlighting how much she embodied her brand until the closure of the fashion house during World War II, when only perfumes and accessories remained in the boutique at 31 rue Cambon in Paris.

Next came Christian Dior and the new look, a corseted style that Chanel would challenge. Her reaction was not long in coming and she then made a resounding comeback in 1954, reaffirming her fashion manifesto against the odds.