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Tribute series/ Gabrielle Coco Chanel

Gabrielle Chanel has had an atypical career to say the least. Her initiation to sewing took place at the orphanage, where she landed at the age of 12 following the death of her mother. From then on, her character was forged: she fled to escape an arranged marriage and ended up in Moulins where she learned the basics of the seamstress profession. In the evening, she sings in cabarets in order to provide for herself. This is where the nickname "Coco" will appear, and stay. She owed her first hat shop to her companion who, at the time, was a wealthy Englishman with whom she shared her life. This is the starting point of her creative adventure which will eventually extend to ready-to-wear.

The legacies left by Chanel are numerous. Focus on four of them.

First, the integration of the sporting and masculine worlds into the feminine wardrobe. The women of the time were imprisoned in corsets and dresses with crinolines which made their movements difficult and cumbersome, which was inconceivable for Chanel. Long before this aesthetic trend was commercialized, the young Chanel used to take the clothes of her companions when she rode a horse, and altered them to her size in order to provide more freedom in her mouvements. She has often been described as an agent of change for the fashion industry, a true visionary.

Then there was the legendary Chanel costume. Introduced in 1925, it featured a collarless jacket and a low-waisted skirt cut to the knees, a slender silhouette that would become the signature for Chanel. The revolution of the little black Chanel dress is also an important contribution to its roadmap. Black was once a color associated exclusively with mourning, but Chanel utilized it in a context of elegance for the creation of evening dresses.

The use of jersey, elsewhere than for men's underwear (their only vocation at the time), is another important contribution of the designer. Chanel was thus the first to give another life to this once found ordinary material. Always with the idea of ​​woman’s emancipation and female freedom, she created the first jersey travel set. “During World War I, Chanel was able to demonstrate that even the barest of materials can be used to create beauty”, Cynthia Green, The voice of Fashion.

It all came to an abrupt end in 1939 with the start of World War II. Chanel decides to close its stores and cease its activities; “It is not a time for fashion”. This break will ultimately last 15 years. Resilient, she makes a big comeback at the age of 71! And that's when she became a recognized international businesswoman and built the Chanel empire as we know it today. "When Chanel came out with her comeback collection in 1954, the American and British press saw it as a 'breakthrough', bringing together fashion and youth in a new way", expressed Marie McLoughlin in the book Chanel, Gabrielle Bonheur (Coco).

Coco Chanel's legacy, her way of doing things without seeking to be approved by others, her independence, her determination and her resilience are some of the many aspects that inspire us every day at Maison Marie Saint Pierre.

Maison Marie Saint Pierre

The Maison team was fond of imagining in which Marie Saint Pierre garment the architect Gabrielle Coco Chanel would have shone through if we would have had the honor to dress her. The perfect match is a jumpsuit "Geranium" from the Fall 2018 collection.

Maison Marie Saint Pierre

Photo montage of Gabrielle Coco Chanel, dressed in a jumpsuit, from the Fall 2018 collection.