Jaqueline Zenn for Second City Style Magazine
There are few designers more legendary than Coco Chanel, so it was
with great delight that I accepted an invitation to a presentation of
the “The Secrets of the Chanel Jacket” at the Chanel
boutique in Chicago. Surrounded by an air of perpetual elegance and a
bit of mystery, her revolutionary creations have forever altered the
way women dress and adorn themselves. From her refusal to wear corsets
(a must for ladies at the time), her love of bold costume jewelry, and
her regular adoption of popular menswear looks, Coco certainly defied
convention in the most stylish manner possible. In fact, it was her
desire to borrow from the boys, so to speak, that led to the origin of
the very first Chanel jackets.
Coco was the first fashionable woman to do many things,
including carrying a shoulder bag (she liked to keep her hands free),
wearing a little black dress to anything other than a funeral, and of
course, introducing jackets that were clearly influenced by men’s
clothing styles. In fact, the very first Chanel jackets were blazers
with military details like gold buttons and epaulets, followed closely
by English tweeds and yachtsman styles, thanks in part to Coco’s affair
with the Duke of Westminster, who was considered one of the most
stylish men of his time.
Although corsets were considered an absolute must for proper ladies
during most of Coco’s life, she shunned such restrictive garments; instead, she focused on softer construction in the form of perfectly tailored suits.
For example, while the average jacket is made of up of four panels of
fabric, a Chanel jacket may contain up to eighteen, resulting in an
incredibly precise fit that can be further molded to the wearer’s body.
In addition, there is lots of handwork, such as intricate embroideries
by the revered House of Lesage, complex tweeds, and chains carefully
placed in the hemlines to ensure each jacket holds its shape. “Every woman wants to be wrapped in chains”, Coco said famously, referring to the chains in her jackets and handbags. Read more here…