Chanel: The Vocabulary of Style

Overview

Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel (1883-1971) was undoubtedly the most influential fashion designer of the 20th century. Her clothes and accessories have remained perennially chic, and her legendary fashion house continues to exert a powerful sway over today's designers. Jérôme Gautier tells the story of Chanel's iconic style through hundreds of images, many taken by the leading lights of fashion photography, including Richard Avedon, Gilles Bensimon, Patrick Demarchelier, Horst P. Horst, Annie Leibovitz, Man Ray, ...

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Overview

Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel (1883-1971) was undoubtedly the most influential fashion designer of the 20th century. Her clothes and accessories have remained perennially chic, and her legendary fashion house continues to exert a powerful sway over today's designers. Jérôme Gautier tells the story of Chanel's iconic style through hundreds of images, many taken by the leading lights of fashion photography, including Richard Avedon, Gilles Bensimon, Patrick Demarchelier, Horst P. Horst, Annie Leibovitz, Man Ray, Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, and Ellen von Unwerth. This innovative volume pairs classic and contemporary photographs, placing fashion plates from Chanel's time alongside those by the house's designer-in-chief, Karl Lagerfeld. For instance, Cecil Beaton's portrait of Chanel appears alongside Lagerfeld's image of Cate Blanchett emulating her, and a classic plate by Henry Clarke flanks an arresting shot by Juergen Teller. 

Through these dazzling photographs, Chanel: The Vocabulary of Style identifies key elements that have defined Chanel's style for generations, such as jersey and tweed, formerly considered menswear fabrics, and the little black dress, which transformed a hue previously reserved for mourning into a statement of elegance. Pearls were her staple, and she often embellished outfits with her signature camellia. Eleven chapters compare the original forms of these enduring trademarks with their later expressions over the years and to the present day, letting the vocabulary of Chanel's style speak for itself.

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Editorial Reviews

Globe & Mail

“This elegant, beautifully designed volume features hundreds of photographs, both classic and contemporary, often shot by photographers who are themselves legendary.”—Globe & Mail
Library Journal
Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel's original designs mingle with Karl Lagerfeld's contemporary interpretations for the House of Chanel in this profusely illustrated analysis. Journalist and fashion historian Gautier organizes the book not chronologically but by ideas he calls "Chanel identifiers"—little black dresses, tweed suits, and simple clothes inspired by menswear. Lagerfeld's vision, Gautier argues, made Chanel's fashion heresies relevant again for late 20th-century women. Chanel herself dominates this book, however. Gautier's explorations of the cultural norms Chanel flouted in her use of jersey and tweed and her invocations of androgyny are compelling. Photographs, identified in end credits, serve not only as historical documents but as methods of disseminating Chanel's style vocabulary, beautifully demonstrated here in images by Annie Leibovitz, Edward Steichen, Mario Testino, Cecil Beaton, Horst P. Horst, Richard Avedon, and Patrick Demarchelier, among others. VERDICT Elegant enough for gift giving and weighty enough to engage fashion scholars; lavish photos support significant chapters on Chanel the revolutionary.—Lindsay M. King, Yale Univ. Lib., New Haven, CT
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300175660
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 11/29/2011
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 121,112
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 13.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author


Jérôme Gautier is a journalist and fashion historian. A passionate collector of fashion magazines, he lives and works in Paris.
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