I have had, over the years, a dotty as a dalmatian relationships with fashion magazines, veering from over the top indulgence when every month I bought a slew of them to a pared pack approach in recent times which saw me limiting my fashion magazine purchases to a copy of Vogue each month. Except in December when I buy, as a present to myself, a host of magazines which I wrap in festive paper and then open them one at a time to read on each of the post-Christmas days.
Category Archives: Chanel
I find it difficult to explain the why and the wherefore of my fascination with Coco Chanel and the brand she created. When I mull over this fascination I sometimes wonder if Chanel is either simply a monumental marketing triumph or more complicatedly a form of Jungian archetype and part of our collective unconscious. That is not to detract from the magic the brand creates or to underestimate how much and how enduringly Coco Chanel, in her time, changed the way women dress. Gone were the restrictive clothes of previous periods and she introduced many style classics: the little black dress, striped Breton tops, long ropes of pearls…
As a teenager I was much addicted to reading the romantic novels of Georgette Heyer and in early adulthood I fell in love with Jane Austen’s works, so when I was in Bath last week it made perfect sense to make a beeline for the Assembly Rooms in the Upper Town. The rooms were at the heart of fashionable Bath society in bygone centuries; Georgette Heyer’s heroines, Jane Austen (when she lived in Bath) and characters in her Bath novels (Northanger Abbey and Persuasion) visited the rooms to dance, listen to music, play cards or drink tea.
The elegant rooms are on view to the public but as they are empty except for a few pieces of furniture and the splendid chandeliers, it was difficult to imagine what they were like back in the day when, candles flickered after dark, young women were chaperoned in public places and Beau Nash ruled society in Bath.
Bath’s Fashion Museum is housed in the lower ground floor of the Assembly Rooms and when I visited there were two special exhibitions on, the first Dressing the Stars (until 29th August) which showcases the work of British costume designers who have won Academy awards and the second The Enduring Romance of the Wedding Dress (until the end of the year) in celebration of this year’s Royal Wedding. While the exhibitions at the Fashion Museum in Bath may lack the lustre of the set pieces put on by major museums, I nonetheless spent a good two hours happily viewing them and the museum’s permanent collection. The permanent collection has clothes and accessories dating from the 17th century to the present day. (The pictures above show costumes from The Duchess and the dresses worn by the actresses who played the young Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret in The King’s Speech)
The outfit I would most liked to have walked away in, came from the contemporary section of the permanent collection, it was a very wearable high-low mix of a vintage Chanel jacket worn with chinos and a white blouse from The Gap, accessorized with a Mulberry bag.
After my visit to the Assembly Rooms I strolled to the magnificent perfectly proportioned Royal Crescent where I stopped to have tea and homemade biscuits in the sunlit garden of the Royal Crescent hotel.
I am sad as I write this, as the television is on in the background and I am listening to news and discussion about the violence, rioting and looting in parts of England over the last three days. It’s very difficult to take in, in total contrast to the serene England I saw a week ago and a shocking reminder of the lurking darkness that can cast gloomy shadows around the heart of any civilized society.
Coco Chanel and the brand she created fascinate me: despite this fascination I knew very little about Chanel’s life until I read Justine Picardie’s biography of her. I love the way the well-researched book delves beneath the myth and mystery in which Chanel’s life is shrouded to arrive at a hugely human portrait of the legendary fashion icon.
Timing is of course everything. As I was in the South of France in early May I missed the chance to spot Cannes-going celebrities as the Film Festival only started this week. Home from home to many of the stars during festival week is The Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc.
On a crisp day late this January, I was walking down the Avenue Montaigne in Paris. I stopped to admire the Chanel windows, which showcased the Spring 2011 collection. My eye was drawn to the colourful backdrops. They were a perfect counterpoint to the ethereally pretty pastel-shaded clothes in the windows. I took some photographs. It was only when I uploaded these that I noticed the signature in the bottom right hand corner. The artist is none other than the talented polymath Monsieur Karl Lagerfeld head honcho at The House of Chanel