Perhaps more now than ever, many of us are exploring the idea of decreasing our consumer footprint, dancing around the notion of buying less and choosing well. A global pandemic has tidal-waved across us, and without the often- deafening chatter of everyday life, we’ve been left with no choice but to embark on some enforced self-reflection. For our shopping habits, this has resulted in a mass gravitation towards classic, sometimes pre-owned investment pieces. Fashion data site Lyst revealed a 75 per cent increase in searches for Chanel’s classic double flap bag in Q1, while the Financial Times’ How To Spend It magazine reported that the price of a vintage Chanel jacket is “rising inexorably.”
While these statistics on more conscientious consuming may have been ignited by the inaccessibility of brick-and-mortar stores, it may well spark the permanent change we needed. But it also highlights the following; that some items really are investment pieces, and that the aforementioned notion of ‘buy less, buy better’ was perhaps invented for Chanel. After all, arguably no other piece in your wardrobe will hold both value and sentiment quite like a Chanel jacket.
The Chanel jacket has never been one to turn its back on exquisite embellishment, as seen here at a backstage fitting
So how exactly did this icon come to achieve such status in the halls of fashion fame? The maison’s linchpin was forged in the ’50s by its eponymous founder; one who so famously put women at the very heart of the brand. Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel’s liberated approach to the definition of elegance lead to “dressing [women] in suits that made them feel at ease, but that still emphasised femininity.” And so it was. A revolution woven from cloth.
Chanel took the tweed of traditional menswear and crafted the iconic jacket that we all still yearn for today; its secret to longevity lying in its DNA remaining the same, but its iterations being almost limitless. At its very core, it is a boxy, tweed jacket bestowed with a whimsical romance through undone, fraying edges and a comfortingly familiar texture. These elements are its hand-written signature. But the design is anything but static. It adapts with the times; reactive to present trends, malleable to the season’s colour palette. It transforms with the zeitgeist; an enduring blueprint with the ability to be eternally reinvented. It is one of the most recognisable garments ever to have been designed, evidenced both by its resale value and, now, the sheer demand for it across vintage platforms.
The finale of the Paris-31 Rue Cambon 2019/20 Métiers d'Art collection
From British royalty in the form of Princess Diana, to political royalty in Jackie Kennedy, the Chanel jacket has draped over the shoulders of almost every name that crops up in a ‘style icon’ Google search.
Whether you’re seeking a tongue- in-cheek interpretation from Karl Lagerfeld’s 1985 runway show, or a brand-new casaque-inspired, feather-trim take by Chanel’s current creative director, Virginie Viard, one thing is certain. You’re buying a future heirloom to be cherished by generations to come.
Images courtesy of Benoit Peverelli and Olivier Saillant
Harper's Bazaar Arabia May 2020 issue