Gabrielle Chanel designed the Chanel Jacket when she was 71 years old, and her fabric of choice, tweed, formed the basis of her designs.
Mademoiselle Chanel on her inspiration:
“I’m a great admirer of the female race. I wanted to give women clothes that they could feel comfortable in, that they could drive in but that, at the same time, would emphasize their femininity.”
Her work was built on the premise of enabling women to move with ease and not feel like they are in a costume. A major shift from the flamboyant and exuberant fashion culture of the 1950s. She presented a Chanel suit-style inspired by menswear- structured and straight-cut, for fluidity and ease of movement.
Defining modernity through her work, Mademoiselle Chanel advocated elegance, freedom of movement and minimalism.
To achieve such, Mademoiselle Chanel kept the shape of the jacket supple by setting the front of the jacket according to the straight grain of the fabric, without darts at the bust. In the same principle, the back of the jacket was shaped by the middle seam. Sleeves were also slightly bent ergonomically, to allow for ease and freedom of movement.
Trivia: did you know that Mademoiselle Chanel was taking her clients’ measurements with their arms crossed on the shoulders?
The construction of the Chanel Jacket has evolved, but the early Chanel jackets were made of equal number of fabric panels, for the front (tweed), and lining (jersey or silk crepe). The tweed and lining panels were precisely overstitched, allowing for movement of the two layers and ease of wear. Chanel was all about details, and the jacket must be as beautiful inside as it is outside.
Functional buttons, featuring Mademoiselle Chanel’s astrological sign the lion head, wheat sheaf, camellia flower, or the double C initials (from 1959) adorned her jackets like jewels. To this day, the buttons affixed on the jackets are unique to the year/collection that they are created.
The iconic Chanel Jacket, also features four real pockets (function, function, and function!), braids in matching or contrasting tones, and a delicate chain sewn to the silk lining so that the jacket falls properly.
International press embraced her statements of modernity and feminine elegance, clients loved her propositions, and the Chanel Jacket became the fashion essential.
When Karl Lagerfeld took over the studio in 1983, he reinvented and reimagined both the fabric and style of the Chanel Jacket. He presented the Jacket as matching suitings (jacket paired with matching skirt). He adorned it with embroidery. He dazzled with colors (pastels, brights, black and white). And he gifted us a mis-matched fashion statement that says: wear your Chanel Jacket with jeans.
We never looked back.