Since 1983 and up to this day, La Maison Chanel continues its success, thanks to the incredible talent of Karl Lagerfeld, the brand’s Artistic Director.
Although Lagerfeld introduced many new items to Chanel collections such as denim, pulled on leggings and hiked up skirts, he remained faithful to the spirit of Mademoiselle by keeping with the elegant flare and retaining all the traditional elements throughout his designs.
“Diana Vreeland would say, “These post-war suits of Chanel were designed God knows when, but the tailoring, the line, the shoulders, the jupe – never too short …is even today the right thing to wear.”” (Chaney, 2011)
Looking at Chanel collections through the years and today, we see Chanel’s spirit still alive through her ‘signatures’: the tweed suits, the quilted shoulder bags with chain straps, the chunky jewellery, and of course the ‘little black dress’ which became such an iconic term in itself and is replicated by many designers.
Karl Lagerfeld, who is recognised as one of the most high-profile designers of the last 20 years, once said that it wasn’t hard to keep the brand alive, as he already had many timeless elements to work with.
While Karl retains Mademoiselle’s basic ideas, he highlights them in his own personal way, with an added modern twist. As much as Karl realises the importance of Chanel’s signature pieces, he realises the importance for the brand to stay ‘au courant’. He creates bags and in ‘cool leathers’ vibrant colours ‘and his ‘Ready-to-Wear line extends beyond cocktail dresses.’ This, in fact, is also keeping with Coco’s spirit, as she always said that “a fashion that does not make one look up-to-date is not fashion” (Chaney, 2011).
Chanel, then and now, is a mixture of ‘modern’ and timeless ‘classic’, as much as Coco herself was. ‘Shocking’ and different but very ‘elegant’ in her style during her youth and her lifetime.
If you love Chanel and haven’t read Lisa Chaney’s Chanel: An Intimate Life, then I highly recommend grabbing a copy. It’s a very interesting and inspiring read.