The second death of Gabrielle Chanel
Our beloved Coco Chanel is surely rolling in her grave after the repulsive collection presented in her name during this year's Paris Fashion Week. It can best be described as the Rainbows of Sadness collection, and it did a fantastic job of painfully backhanding her memory. There was absolutely no trace of the elegant, functional, clean and timeless styles she became famous for. This was one of the most shockingly unfortunate Chanel collections ever to hit the runway, but was the first to deviate from true "Chanel-ness." The company has been drifting away from her original vision for years, and, under the guidance of Lagerfeld, has finally taken a stylistic nosedive. Chanel's style was timeless, because it clung to the basic rules of class. Her clothing displayed quality, tailoring, comfort and simplicity. She also wisely avoided trendy looks, loud colors, cheap fabrics and essentially everything that was wrong about Rainbow Sadness.
To fully appreciate how damaging this betrayal of Chanel's style ideals is, some background information is required. Gabrielle Chanel learned how to sew from her mother when she was a little girl. Her family was extremely poor, and, after her mother's death when she was twelve years old, Chanel was dropped off at a convent by her father. At the age of 18, she left the convent. Forced to live by her own means, she worked as a seamstress and sang at nightclubs. Although she was already a sturdy seamstress, clothing was not her first passion. Her first dream was to become an entertainer. However, she ended up becoming the mistress of a wealthy officer named Balsan instead. It was during her years as his mistress that she was exposed to high fashion society and was able to observe style in a wider variety of forms. It was also a time of great leisure for her, giving her the time to begin fashioning hats as a hobby.
Eventually, she left Balsan for his good friend Boy Capel, who greatly encouraged her dreams. He put her up in Paris, bought her a shop for the sale of her hats and financially supported her goals. Their affair lasted nine years, but Boy ended up getting married to another woman. Then, a year later, he died in a car accident. The event shattered Chanel, and, according to her, she never loved again. Instead she dedicated her life to her growing company and her original vision of what clothing could, and should do, for women.
She believed that women of any social level should be able to dress with class and dignity. She invented the little black dress, pioneered the obsession with the "black and white look," demanded simplicity, quality and classical lines, and engineered styles so flattering and understated that most of them endure to this very day. Her company made clothing that made women feel effortlessly beautiful. She believed in the power of dressing for one's self, not for anyone else. In other words, she was against cheap trends and catering to the lowest common denominator. Simply put, she would have been against everything that her company is now giving the impression of becoming. Chanel passed away in 1971, but, with this destruction of her life's work, it's as if she is dying again.
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