Like the stars that would form a constellation, certain cities made a lasting impression on Gabrielle Chanel. Deauville, Biarritz and Venice are part of CHANEL’s own astral chart. These destinations were linked to encounters, journeys, love or friendship stories, with some of the most important people in Gabrielle Chanel’s life. Each of these cities inspired the designer in its own way, helping to shape the CHANEL allure: horseracing, architecture and artistic movements down a sunny street, the presentiment of lifestyles to come, on the bridge of a boat or a beach, an instinct for future desires gleaned from simply walking and watching other women on holidays.
Inside Chanel Destinations Chapter 22, first stop: Deauville.
This first journey takes us back to Deauville in 1912. At this time, the French city is the epicenter of ambition and elegance. It is also one of the most popular seaside resorts in Europe during the Belle Epoque. Deauville brings great people to enjoy the sea air and a new sporting culture. Beaches and regattas embrace this new sportswear trend. Deauville is definitely the place to be and to be seen. It is a very exciting moment as technological innovation is step by step replacing the “old manners”. Automobiles are replacing carriages and a wind of happiness is blowing on the white sails of Deauville.
At this time, young Gabrielle Chanel walks around on the arm of Boy Capel. She is 29 years old and they have decided to bring their romance into light of day. She sees inspiration everywhere: in striped sailor shirts, the boating jackets worn by Capel, the impressionist skies of Normandy and the wind that whips clothes into life. Young Coco observes the styles from another century, with their cumbersome hairstyles and corsets that are a hindrance to women. She is confident that the High Society of Deauville will soon be wearing her hats, and her clothes.
On the beach, in the shadow of the changing cabins, Coco ties up her hair: she is soon to cut it short. She loves the sun on her skin, the beige of wet sand. As she observes the women bathing, joyful despite their unwieldy attire, she is struck by the need to give them new bathing suits, and new clothes, that are lighter, more supple, and leave their bodies free to move.
On Rue Gontaut-Biron, down the street from the casino, Gabrielle Chanel writes her name in black letters on the white storefront of her new boutique for the first time. Throngs of elegant ladies and, later, aristocrats rush to acquire her hats and accessories.
Rebellious and unconventional, Gabrielle allows her skin to tan, she wants to cut her hair, has fun on the café terraces, in restaurants. She applauds the performances of dancer Loie Fuller and the Ballets Russes, for whom she would later design costumes and support passionately. With the help of her sister Antoinette and aunt Adrienne, her boutique on the rue Gautont-Biron is buoyant: full of women yearning for knitted sweaters, and outfits that are simple yet nonchalantly chic. Gabrielle Chanel had just invented sports fashion. The designer had anticipated the coming of a new era where women would adopt a new stance. A new story is being written, to which she too must take up a pen and contribute, wielding her scissors to inject a breath of fresh air.
Deauville gives Coco her first limelight / her first glimpse of celebrity/fame. Everybody celebrates this young talented designer but nobody understands at that time that Gabrielle Chanel will push forward Fashion into a new century and into new codes.
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