V&A to stage first UK exhibition on fashion designer Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel

The retrospective will feature more than 180 looks alongside jewellery, accessories, cosmetics and perfumes.
Gabrielle Chanel was a famous French fashion designer (PA)

Gabrielle Chanel was a famous French fashion designer (PA)

By Naomi Clarke, PA Entertainment Reporter

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) will stage the first UK exhibition showcasing the work of French fashion designer Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel next year.

It will chart the evolution of her design style and the establishment of the House of Chanel, from the opening of her first millinery boutique in Paris in 1910 to the showing of her final collection in 1971.

Running from September 16 2023 to February 25 2024, the exhibition will feature more than 180 looks alongside jewellery, accessories, cosmetics and perfumes.

The new exhibition will run in the London-based VandA from September 16 2023 to February 25 2024 (Aaron Chown/PA)

The new exhibition will run in the London-based VandA from September 16 2023 to February 25 2024 (Aaron Chown/PA)

Through eight themed sections, the exhibit will explore Chanel’s innovative approach to fabric, silhouette and construction, and will examine how she drafted a new framework for fashion in the 20th century.

Showcasing some of the most notable designs from her 60 years in fashion, the retrospective will analyse her professional career, the emergence and development of her style and her historical impact.

It will also highlight Chanel’s British inspirations, such as her adoption of tweed and other British-made textiles.

The show will be based on the Gabrielle Chanel exhibit by the Palais Galliera in Paris, reimagined with rarely seen pieces from the V&A’s collection.

The exhibition will also showcase looks from Palais Galliera and the Patrimoine de Chanel, the heritage collections of the fashion house in Paris.

Key pieces on display will include outfits created for the late British model Anne Gunning and Hollywood stars Lauren Bacall and Marlene Dietrich.

Fashion house Chanel are supporting the exhibition (Yui Mok/PA)

Fashion house Chanel are supporting the exhibition (Yui Mok/PA)

The director of the Palais Galliera, Miren Arzalluz, noted that Chanel’s “fashion manifesto” was to create a “new kind of elegance based on freedom of movement, a natural and casual pose, a subtle elegance that shuns all extravagances, a timeless style for a new kind of woman”.

She added: “Her success was based not only on the functionality, comfort and chic elegance of her designs, but also on her ability to grasp and interpret the needs and desires of the women of her time.”

The director of the V&A, Tristram Hunt, also expressed his “delight” in partnering with Chanel and the Palais Galliera on this exhibition, allowing them to explore Chanel’s style and display the museum’s “little-known historic garments” from their collection.

Bruno Pavlovsky, president of Chanel fashion and Chanel SAS, added: “Gabrielle Chanel boldly redefined the modern women’s wardrobe.

“We are honoured and delighted that the V&A, such a world-leading museum and great institution, will stage the first UK retrospective of her work.

“By showcasing her contribution to the history of fashion as well as the incredible relevance and permanence of the Chanel style, this exhibition will highlight one of the greatest visionaries of our time.”


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