In the Spirit of Coco Chanel

A reduction to the basics – clear lines and functionality defined Coco Chanel’s fashion design and launched a new style. Dorotheum is delighted to offer a glimpse into Karl Lagerfeld’s designs for Chanel at the upcoming Chanel Vintage Auction, on 14 June 2016 at the Palais Dorotheum Vienna.

The life of Coco Chanel

Born Gabrielle Chasnel in 1883 and raised in poverty, Coco Chanel was initially trained as a seamstress. After a short detour into the world of vaudeville, she was introduced into Parisian society by the son of an industrialist, with whose financial support she opened a very successful hat-making studio in 1906. Her elegant creations soon found great favour with ladies from Paris and further afield. In this enterprise her artistic philosophy first revealed itself, a stance which would form the basis of Coco Chanel’s future works – a reduction to the basics. Chanel opened her first fashion boutique at the French seaside resort of Deauville in 1913, now considered the official founding date of the Chanel fashion empire.

By 1915 Coco Chanel owned fashion boutiques in Paris, Deauville, and Biarritz. Clear lines and functionality defined her fashion design, which she herself wore. With her fashionable shortly cut hair she launched a new style. Coco Chanel’s clothing line quickly became an internationally established brand, with perfume, jewellery and accessories further rounding out the collections. The little black dress from the 1920s was her invention, as was the classic Chanel suit from the 1950s. Chanel’s mark on the world is particularly memorable in the narrow bordered jacket with lightly flared skirt, mostly made from bouclé, as well as the classic simple silk blouse accessorised by long chains of pearls. Her preferred colours were black, white, and beige.


Countless stars from the worlds of film, television, and politics were seen wearing Coco Chanel’s designs, including the likes of Marlene Dietrich, Brigitte Bardot, Grace Kelly, Romy Schneider, Elizabeth Taylor, and Lady Diana. By this point Chanel’s march to success was unstoppable.

Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel

Coco Chanel died in 1971 in her studio in Paris, aged 87. Her fashion house continued with some difficulty after her death, until Karl Lagerfeld took over as chief designer for the House of Chanel in 1983. Not by chance is he known as a “Fashion Tsar”, and his collections and creations have kept him at the forefront of international fashion for decades. Lagerfeld’s many creations at Chanel over the past 30 years attest to more than just a tremendous creative diversity. He continually succeeds in keeping the spirit of Coco Chanel alive without being old-fashioned or backward. With this spirit, Lagerfeld effortlessly led Chanel into the new millennium, enthusing both young and old with his fashion designs and taking inspiration from ideas used in the House of Chanel for 100 years. Technically perfect manufacturing, the finest materials, and outstanding, timeless design have contributed to the House of Chanel’s lasting legacy.

Dorotheum is delighted to offer a glimpse into Karl Lagerfeld’s designs for Chanel. Items at auction include suits, dresses, pantsuits, blouses, twinsets, accessories, handbags, necklaces, belts, brooches, and shoes from 1989 to 2009, from a diverse array of collections.

(myART MAGAZINE No. 07/2016)

Information: Sonja Höpp and Regina Herbst are Dorotheum’s vintage and historical textiles specialists.

Chanel Vintage Auction
Tuesday, June 14 – 2pm
Palais Dorotheum Vienna

Our Client Advisory Service is glad to assist you!
Tel +43-1-515 60-570, Fax -489

Viewing from  9 Jun– 14 June 2016

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