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Gabrielle Chanel at her house

Revisiting The Sailor’s Uniform for Chanel’s Paris-Hamburg 2017-18 Métiers d’art collection

The sailor suit has no equivalent in the history of fashion. With its iconic square collar, stripes, and drop-front trousers, it remains a symbol of the elegant seaside woman of the 19th century. Gabrielle Chanel continued the tradition of the sailor suit with the opening of Chanel boutique in Deauville, a coastal resort where Chanel re-imagined womenswear alongside daring fabrics and the iconic suit.

Using striped silk jersey; Chanel pushed boundaries of reinterpretation of these designs worn at sea, these fabrics previously only used in menswear. Made of jersey for one key reason: comfort. In the 1930s, Gabrielle Chanel, started adorning these drop-front trousers and striped jersey herself. From the symbol of emancipation of women when worn by writer Colette in 1984, unconventional on Picasso, to the masculine ideal when worn on Cocteau, the suit became a symbol of elegance and liberation.

Mademoiselle Chanel at her house La Pausa in the French riviera with her dog Gigot Gabrielle Chanel
Courtesy of Chanel.

Perceived by Karl Lagerfeld as the biggest inspiration of Gabrielle Chanel, he reinterprets the striped jersey in the Paris-Hamburg 2017/18 Métiers d’art collection. Reviewing the entire wardrobe of a sailor, Lagerfeld captures the characteristics of a sailor uniform through double-breasted overcoats, caps, and bags. The most classic suit, revisited with the embellishment of a sailor’s collar, is transformed into a dress with feathered stripes. Combining Gabrielle Chanel’s nautical vocabulary with the craftsmanship of the house, Chanel brings a breath of life to the elegant seaside woman.

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