While holidaying in China last month, I dragged my brother along to the Culture Chanel exhibition in Shanghai – he was surprisingly impressed. It would have been difficult not to have been though, with some 400 pieces of Chanel history placed over 2 floors in the beautiful MoCA museum. Curated by Jean-Louis Froment, a well-know French art director & critic, and helped by the Chanel house, this exhibition was a fascinating insight into the inspirations behind the designs of Chanel – from drawings, manuscripts and clothing to perfumes, films and precious objects. Even though it’s not chronological, the exhibition covers plenty from Chanel’s origins with Gabrielle Chanel to the present day, and looks very closely at the relationships Mademoiselle Chanel had with artists, musicians and poets who no doubt inspired her – Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso & Igor Stravinsky to name a few…
The exhibition is centered around 5 themes – Origin, Abstraction, Invisibility, Liberty & Imaginary. It starts with how Gabrielle’s childhood in an orphanage in Aubazine would influence her whole life, an example being the symbolic minimalism of day-to-day religious dress in many Chanel collections. On display also was a replica of the stained-glass window that inspired the now infamous Chanel C’s.
I have been at a number of fashion related exhibitions now and I have to say, this was definitely my favourite yet. Along with the items on show, there were wonderful films ongoing in a film room, an interactive screen were you could learn about fabrics and patterns favoured through the years, a room showing Chanel commercials for various perfumes, and numerous behind-the-scenes photographs. As photography was strictly forbidden you will have to excuse the few I grabbed on my iPhone (bold me I know)!
The exhibition runs until March 14th and I would advise any Chanel lover like myself to go see it if you get a chance.