Forget the dress – Lagerfeld just can't get enough of Chanel's Little Black Jacket

Exhibition celebrating a design classic opens in London

You've heard of the Little Black Dress – now meet the Little Black Jacket. The classic garment created by Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, the designer who revolutionised womenswear in the early 20th century, is being celebrated with a global exhibition taking in nine cities – and last night it opened in London at Charles Saatchi's gallery.

Curated by Karl Lagerfeld and Harper's Bazaar global fashion director Carine Roitfeld, the exhibition of 113 photographs, taken by Lagerfeld himself, features various muses, actors and bright young things in the jacket Chanel designed during the First World War, which remains one of the label's bestselling pieces.

"Every designer dreams of inventing the Chanel jacket," said Lagerfeld. "It's up there with jeans or the T-shirt. It has come to symbolise a timelessly fashionable form of nonchalant feminine elegance – it belongs to every era."

The design was inspired by the staff livery of the surprisingly named Baron Pantz Hotel, in Austria, where Mme Chanel once stayed. She then recreated the traditional Tyrolean jacket, with its four pockets and braid trim, in casual and practical jersey – an increasingly popular fabric thanks to wartime shortages, but one previously never used by high-end couturiers – and gave the boxy, masculine style a new softness and fluidity.

"It really is the piece that goes with everything and suits everyone," said Lagerfeld, who during his own tenure at the label has embellished the design with logo prints, fur and gold hardware. "It works by night or by day, and can be casual or dressy. Everyone always talks about the little black dress, but there's also the little black jacket."

But despite being one of French fashion's most famous garments, the Chanel jacket also has roots this side of the Channel. It was inspired by two of the designer's English lovers: the first, Boy Capel, whose tailored, masculine wardrobe provided the basis for the gamine tailored pieces with which she made her name, and the second, the 2nd Duke of Westminster, who introduced Chanel to British heritage fabrics through his love of hunting.

British stars who appear in the exhibition include Alexa Chung, the singer Lily Rose Cooper (formerly Lily Allen), the model Edie Campbell and the rock-chick star of the label's current accessories campaign Alice Dellal. Clearly, the label continues to be interested in the boyish and carefree attitudes of these thoroughly modern British demoiselles.

ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

    £35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

    £45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

    Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

    £60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power