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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Chanel in 55 Objects by Emma Baxter-Wright


The first time I travelled to Paris, visiting Chanel’s flagship store at 31 rue Cambon was top of my must-do list! For many years, I had been captivated by Coco Chanel’s innovative (and enduring) style, iconic accessories and luxury fragrance.

“Once described as ‘the exterminating angel of nineteenth-century style’, Chanel led a revolution in womenswear which rejected the oppressive constraints of male-dominated couture, in favour of physical freedom and understated elegance,” says author Emma Baxter-Wright.

“She grasped every opportunity that life presented, and the decisions she made were all informed by her personal circumstances. Impulsive and instinctive, she believed passionately that a newfound shift toward simplicity would facilitate the evolving role of women in a changing world.”

Her global legacy was built around must-have items including the Little Black Dress, boxy tweed Chanel suits, the striped Breton top, costume jewellery, logo accessories, 2.55 handbag, unstructured trouser suits, two-tone slingback shoes and the bestselling perfume ever invented, Chanel N°5.

Coco loved outdoor activities – riding horses, golf, tennis and swimming in the ocean and sought greater freedom to move. Her striped bathing suits, typically knee length shorts and tank-top style vests were considered racy compared to the Victorian norms.

“Practical sportswear was an early innovation of Chanel, who felt that women should be offered the same freedom as men, in the form of unrestrictive clothing that allowed ease of movement and comfort.”

During the first world war, fabric shortages also led to the inventive use of fluid jersey for casual day wear. Coco Chanel was reshaping the fashion landscape, liberating the female body (she rejected the corset) and appropriated men’s clothing. Today, her aesthetic influence lives on.

Created in partnership with the House of Chanel this book celebrates the designer through her finest creations. Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel’s meteoric rags-to-riches story saw her elevated from humble beginnings to being admired as one of the most successful women in the world. This beautifully illustrated, stunning hardback is the perfect gift book for fashion lovers.

Emma Baxter-Wright is a fashion stylist and writer. She has taught fashion journalism and contributed to many publications. She is also the author of Little Book of Chanel and Little Book of Yves Saint Laurent. Follow Emma online.

Reviewer: Andrea Molloy Welbeck Publishing

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