THE LIT­TLE JACKET THAT COULD

An ho­mage to one of Gabrielle Chanel’s most time­less cre­ations

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Bazaar -

Alit­tle dress cut for­giv­ingly straight with no corset­ing, a smart tweed suit, el­e­gant ropes of pearls, the colour black –things so bril­liant in their sim­plic­ity that we some­times for­get what a woman now counts as her fail-proof fash­ion fall­backs were rev­o­lu­tion­ary when Coco Chanel in­tro­duced them to a froufrou French so­ci­ety some 80 years ago.

Made­moi­selle Chanel con­trib­uted a great deal to the mod­ern fash­ion lex­i­con. Next to the lit­tle black dress – she would prob­a­bly have to share credit with Hu­bert de Givenchy and Au­drey Hep­burn for mak­ing this a world­wide smash – the lit­tle black jacket is prob­a­bly her great­est legacy. Cre­ated as a re­ac­tion against the stiff, re­stric­tive way women dressed in the ’50s, Chanel wanted a piece that was min­i­mal, fuss-free, and most im­por­tantly, al­lowed the wearer to move com­fort­ably. The lit­tle black jacket summed up her de­sign phi­los­o­phy – clothes meant to be lived in, that could be worn ev­ery­where and at all hours of the day.

Since his ap­point­ment in 1983, Karl Lager­feld has been pay­ing trib­ute to the Chanel jacket ev­ery sea­son in some way or another. Whether paired with blue jeans or chic, tiny mail­lots; blown-up or shrunken-down, it has al­ways been there on the run­way. Some­times even lit­er­ally, as was the case dur­ing the Spring/Sumer ’08 Haute Cou­ture show when a 20-me­tre sculp­ture of the jacket was the cat­walk cen­tre­piece, or more re­cently in Oc­to­ber, when it was part of the ob­jets on dis­play at the Chanel “art gallery/run­way”.

In 2012, Chanel de­cided to cel­e­brate the iconic garment in a much big­ger and tan­gi­ble way, and thus The Lit­tle Black Jacket: Chanel’s Clas­sic Re­vis­ited was born. With Lager­feld be­hind the lens and BAZAAR’s global fash­ion di­rec­tor Carine Roitfeld in charge of styling du­ties, they amassed over 100 celebri­ties and per­son­al­i­ties from all over the globe to put their own spin on the jacket.

For a while, the tweed jacket – and the Chanel brand in gen­eral, to be hon­est – was seen in a par­tic­u­lar light. The women who wear Chanel are wealthy, def­i­nitely, al­most al­ways beau­ti­ful, and noth­ing if not chic. But one wouldn’t as­so­ci­ate the Chanel woman with cool; the way a Marni, Prada, or Proenza girl could be called cool. With this project, Lager­feld – who just turned 80 – is beat­ing the young ones at their game and show­ing that not only is the jacket cool, it is also fresh, youth­ful, and the ul­ti­mate ex­pres­sion of per­sonal style.

Ev­ery per­son­al­ity shot for the book had a dif­fer­ent style, and yet, the jacket worked for them. Cool French girls Elisa Sed­naoui and Vanessa Par­adis showed what ef­fort­less chic looked like with the jacket slipped

over their vin­tage lace dresses and frothy tutu skirts. Lon­don girls full of at­ti­tude such as Alice Del­lal punked up the jacket with leather and studs while Ge­or­gia May Jag­ger se­duced in a black bra top. Hol­ly­wood stars young and old put their spin on it; Elle Fan­ning looked vir­ginal with a daisy head­band while Sarah Jes­sica Parker re­asserted her sta­tus as fash­ion queen with a ma­jes­tic crown. The boys got in on the ac­tion, too; Haider Ack­er­mann wore it with his trade­mark scarves and Kanye West even busted out a rare smile in front of Lager­feld’s cam­era in his leather jeans and neck­laces.

Now, a sec­ond edi­tion of the book has been pub­lished with 21 new im­ages. New jack­ets were com­mis­sioned, which were then shot on fresh faces, many of them from Asia – par­tic­u­larly China, where Chanel, like many other lux­ury brands, is fo­cus­ing much of its mar­ket­ing mus­cle now. Fash­ion’s hottest names of the mo­ment all made an ap­pear­ance. Xiao Wen Ju chan­nelled an Ori­en­tal Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe while Sui He and Fei Fei Sun looked re­splen­dent in an­cient Chi­nese head­dress. The rest of the new ad­di­tions are made up of global pop princesses like Rita Ora and movie stars like Keira Knight­ley, who as the face of Chanel is spe­cial enough to war­rant the lit­tle tweed jacket in white.

De­but­ing in Tokyo in April 2012, the ex­hi­bi­tion then made its way to New York, Mi­lan, Paris, Syd­ney, and Shang­hai. Now, it is mak­ing its fi­nal pit stop at the ArtS­cience Mu­seum in Sin­ga­pore, the only South­east Asian desti­na­tion on the tour. To fête its ar­rival and the fi­nal leg of the ex­hi­bi­tion, the house pulled out all the stops to throw one of the big­gest par­ties Sin­ga­pore has seen this year. In­ter­na­tional top mod­els the likes of Karolina Kurkova, Xiao Wen Ju, and Soo Joo Park were flown in as well as ac­tresses Alma Jodor­owsky from France and Korea’s Song Hye Kyo, who min­gled with VVIP guests in beau­ti­ful head-to-toe Chanel.

Cham­pagne flowed and the party went on and on. In an age where trends come and go at the speed of light, it’s a joy to cel­e­brate the time­less­ness of a clas­sic you know you can pull out of the closet what­ever the sea­son, shrug over any out­fit, and walk out con­fi­dent. A line from a Roberto Juar­roz poem which opens the book says it best: “There are clothes which keep re­ju­ve­nat­ing them­selves in­stead of get­ting worn out.” He might as well have writ­ten it about the lit­tle black Chanel jacket. The book ‘The Lit­tle Black Jacket: Chanel’s Clas­sic Re­vis­ited by Karl Lager­feld and Carine Roitfeld’ is out now. The ex­hi­bi­tion runs un­til Jan­uary 1 at the ArtS­cience Mu­seum, Ma­rina Bay Sands, Sin­ga­pore. the­lit­tle­black­jacket.chanel.com

Karolina Kurkova

Ju Xiao Wen

‘The Lit­tle Black Jacket’ ex­hi­bi­tion at Sin­ga­pore’s ArtS­cience Mu­seum

Song Hye Kyo

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