At the V&A in London from the 16th of September to the 25th of February 2024

[On the cover: Marie-Hélène Arnaud in a tweed suit from Chanel’s AutumnWinter 1959 collection and Chanel shoes, carrying the 2.55 Chanel handbag © CHANEL/All rights reserved]

It is the first UK exhibition dedicated to the French couturier and the evolution of her style which continues to influence women all over the world. Over 180 looks including accessories, jewellery, and fragrances explore the pioneering approach to fashion design of an independent and active woman, a pioneer in anticipating modern times with the introduction of fluid silhouettes, which liberated women from corsets, and the use of soft fabrics such as jersey. A story that goes from the opening of the first boutique in Paris in 1910 to her last collection in 1971. Among her accessories, those that have become iconic and timeless had to be included: the Chanel 2.55 bag and the two-tone slingbacks. Among the dresses, those created for Hollywood divas such as Lauren Bacall and Marlene Dietrich are also on display. Each of the 10 sections of the exhibition is dedicated to a historical period in “Coco’s” (Gabrielle’s) life and work and the related changes introduced to the world of fashion, from the tweed suit, to the little black dress, from Chanel n. 5, to her last collection for spring summer 1971.

Gabrielle Chanel, 31 rue Cambon, Paris, 1937. Photo: Roger Schall/Condé Nast/Shutterstock