113 photos, six days, two creative minds and a classic black jacket. These are the ingredients for Karl Lagerfeld’s latest project. Lagerfeld, the chief designer and creative director of Chanel, has teamed up with Carine Roitfeld – former Vogue Paris editor – to release The Little Black Jacket: Chanel’s Classic Revisited.
The book and multiple-city exhibition is set to display the gender-ambiguous nature of the classic Chanel jacket. 113 varied celebrities demonstrate the versatility of the garment, styled according to specific themes. Shooting simplistic portrait-styled shots in a basic studio setting, Lagerfeld ensures that the tweed blazer is at the centre of attention. The duo succeeds in portraying the jackets adaptive nature to all forms and lifestyles.
The Chanel jacket symbolises a timelessly fashionable form of nonchalant feminine elegance: it belongs to every era. (Karl Lagerlfeld)
Previously donned by famous style icons like Jackie O, the signature piece is reinvented with the help of some famous faces ranging from young up-and-comers to veteran fashion mavericks. Among the photographed are Elizabeth Olsen, Dakota and Elle fanning, Georgia-May Jagger, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Tilda Swinton, Claudia Schiffer, even Yoko Ono and ever-chic Sarah Jessica Parker, to name a few. Infamous rapper and designer, Kanye West, poses casually in the androgynous jacket while arguably fashions most influential figure, Anna Wintour, is photographed from behind, characterised by her legendary bob cut. Connoisseur of street couture – Theophilus London – also contributes his face to the project, bringing a lil’ ‘swag’ to the classic piece while Monacan princess Charlotte Casiraghi lends an air of royalty.
The exhibition started its leg in Tokyo, followed by New York’s Soho district in early June and currently running in Taipei. Set to move to a number of locations, the final showcase will surely go out in the same trend-setting fashion as its launch. Between Lagerfeld’s photographic eye and Roitfeld’s styling finesse, the sophistication-meets-functionality of the jacket partnered with cool celebrities re-ignites the classic in a contemporary setting, proving that the 89-year-old’s grasp on fashion is as tight as his infamous ponytail. From the LBD and now LBJ, Chanel keeps proving itself as a necessary staple in the cupboards of all fashion lovers, young and old. The Little Black Jacket is a black and white masterpiece, testament to the legacy of Coco Chanel’s timeless style. I wait patiently for Lagerfeld’s next crack at reinventing the wheel.
words: Naledi Radebe