Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Coco Chanel, an Ongoing Inspiration

Many books have already been written about Coco Chanel but this week Thames & Hudson has published one solely dedicated to her style by Jérôme Gautier: Chanel, the Vocabulary of Style.

Photography by Arthur Elgort

The silver screen has also paid tribute to one of the most lengendary women in fashion. Audrey Tautoo played her in Coco Before Chanel, depicting her bravery, commitment and unconventional nature.

If even today there is a stigma against women who go against their circumstances and fight for a better life, the so-called social climbers, in her days it was even more so.

But Chanel believed in her talent and wanted to release women from a confined role and style. She sensed what they really wanted and offered a new way of dressing wich was truly liberating.

Photography by Laurie Bartley

In Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky Anna Mouglaglis has a strong presence but her aristocratic looks betrayed who Chanel really was - a self-made woman - and the mesmerizing images of the movie couldn't conceal the questionable and unscrupulous choices Chanel made in her personal life.

During the German occupation of Paris in the World War II, she had an affair with a German military intelligence officer at the Hotel Ritz, where she had resided for more than 30 years and where she died in 1971.

Photography by Edward Steichen, © Condé Nast Archive/Corbis

Nonetheless, her brilliance as a style creator continues to inspire and influence others including Jérôme Gautier, who describes himself as a journalist who is fond of fashion and photography.

Gautier is the author of Chanel, The Vocabulary of Style, the new book celebrating the key elements that defined and still define her style, through inspired pairings of classic and contemporary photographs.

Coco Chanel photographed by Cecil Beaton

© The Condé Nast Publications Ltd
Courtesy of the Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby's

Cecil Beaton's portrait of Coco Chanel for example, combines with one of Cate Blanchett by Karl Lagerfeld.

Juxtaposing fashion plates from Chanel's own time with the most recent creations by Karl Lagerfeld, the resonance between archive and contemporary photographs becomes sharp, vibrant and telling.

Chanel SS 12 catwalk show, source: vogue.it

You can admire Chanel's iconic style through the lens of the world's greatest fashion photographers such as Horst, Richard Avedon, Man Ray, Patrick Demarchelier and Juergen Teller. The book is out now.

The Vocabulary of Style
By Jérôme Gautier
(£65, Thames & Hudson)

Other Fashion Books:
A Decade of Fashion and Style
'Erotic Chic' Fashion Images by Carine Roitfeld
Homage to Diana Vreeland, a Fashion Icon