What To Expect From The V&A’s Major Gabrielle Chanel Exhibition

From an orderly queue. Tickets went on sale early today for the blockbuster Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto exhibition which opens at the V&A on September 16. The exhibition, which is devoted to Gabrielle Chanel’s work from 1910 to 1971, when she presented her final collection, is presented in partnership with Palais Galleria, which first staged the exhibition  in 2019. For its V&A stint, the museum has introduced 122 items from its own archive, including rare mint condition LBDs from the 1920s.

The storytelling is also skewed towards Chanel’s British connections – she was a huge champion of British tweeds and textiles, staging fashion shows in Grovesnor Square of collections created with English fabrics in the 1920s. The big story though is just how modern her approach was. A cream blouse from 1916 could be worn today, ditto the evening gowns from the 1920s and 1930s. Not only are the exhibits spectacular, covering everything from costumes for the Ballet Russes to classic tweed skirt suits – the exhibition promises to throw fresh light on Chanel’s pioneering approach. She could be considered the original influencer, often appearing in her own advertisements and relishing her fame and leveraging it for the benefit of her brand. She was a genius entrepreneur, first finding success as a milliner then quickly moving into fashion and beauty. In each metier, innovation and modernity were her hallmarks. After the success of Chanel No. 5, launched in 1921, she launched make-up and skincare in the 1920s and even included fake tan in her range.

Top image: Gabrielle Chanel, 31 rue Cambon, Paris, 1937. Photo by Roger Schall. All imagery courtesy of the V&A. 

‘Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto’ takes place at the V&A London from September 16, 2023 – February 25, 2024. Buy your tickets here


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