Q: How do you explain the universal appeal behind the little black jacket?
A: There are several reasons. Firstly, Mademoiselle Chanel was able to make this piece iconic just by wearing it. She built up a character around her life story and her attitude. The source of inspiration for the jacket was rather unusual: Mademoiselle Chanel took a liking to a Tyrolean jacket with four pockets and a braid trim that was worn by staff at the Baron Pantz Hotel in Austria. So it was actually a men's jacket. Just as she borrowed tweed from the Duke of Westminster and jersey from Boy Capel, she took this piece and fashioned the ladies' equivalent of a men's two-button suit.
Every designer dreams of inventing the CHANEL jacket. It's up there with jeans or the t-shirt; it is gender neutral, that is to say it can be womenswear or menswear. The CHANEL jacket is a men's jacket that has become a recognised piece of women's clothing. It has crossed that line and come to symbolise a timelessly fashionable form of nonchalant feminine elegance: it belongs to every era.
Q: Yes. Because it's genderless, it's also timeless.
A: The jacket has changed: we've developed it, and updated its proportions. The model chosen for the book is the most classic one, which is the closest to the original jacket Mademoiselle Chanel created.
It's the equivalent of jeans or a white shirt. It really is the piece that goes with everything, suits everyone and is appropriate anytime. It works by night or by day, and can be casual or dressy. It's quite the miracle! Everyone always talks about the little black dress, but there's also the little black jacket!
Q: And what do you think of Carine Roitfeld?
A: In a way, Carine Roitfeld is a sort of modern-day Coco. She sets a radically different style and tone. Carine's personality is nothing like Coco Chanel's, but her image and character can be seen on everything she touches. Like Mademoiselle Chanel, she has inspired other people.
The eternal can only last if it stays up to date at the same time. For this reason the jacket is eternal.
Q: Everyone at the shoot made the jacket their own. It's like a pair of jeans, right?
A: It's like jeans or a t-shirt: it's something that belongs to everyone.
Q: Where did the idea for the book come from?
A: Karl and I came up with the idea at the beginning of 2011.
Q: Were there no limits to your creativity?
A: Totally unlimited - look, we cut up the CHANEL jacket, we did it all. We made it short-sleeved, sleeveless, turned it inside out. Ultimately its a very wearable garment because you can do a lot with it. It can work as sportswear when paired with jeans, or go with an evening gown, or be worn by a male ballet dancer. This jacket suits everyone. It's an incredible item of clothing. It's like a very elegant version of the denim jacket.
Q: Why do you think this jacket transcends the eras so successfully?
A: Isn't that Mademoiselle Chanel's secret? Honestly? It works. Everybody wants one. We did a white version at one point; it looked fabulous in white too. I don't know. There are secrets like that. Some things will just always work very, very well, the Coco spirit.
Q: Because there's also something simple and easy-to-wear about it.
A: You feel good in it. Like the cardigan, it was originally a men's jacket, which is perhaps why women like to wear it. Personally I've always liked the masculine/feminine look in women, and for me this jacket projects that perfectly. It has a masculine side to it.
Q: Which explains why it's such a modern piece.
A: It transcends the decades, doesn't it? This jacket is ageless as far as I'm concerned. Eternal. As they say, timeless.
Q: Where would you wear the little black jacket?
A: Anywhere I'd want to feel stylish and safe.
Q: What would you pair it with?
A: Jeans, a skirt, shorts, or my bare bones...
Q: What makes it a contemporary piece?
A: It's perfect for any occasion!
Q: Why is the Chanel little black jacket an iconic piece of fashion?
A: It's a classic that goes with everything.
Q: In which circumstances would you wear it?
A: You can wear it anytime, day or night, casual or dressy.
The Sydney opening last night
There are sophisticated affairs and sophisticated affairs. Last night's opening of the Little Black Jacket exhibition in Sydney fell into both of these categories. To start the evening we viewed the exhibition of over 100 well-known international figures and their interpretation of how to wear Chanel's little black jacket. As an avid street-style watcher I adore seeing how people interpret fashion, so this exhibition I couldn't get enough.
From viewing the exhibition with champagne in hand and soaking up the grandeur of the dimly lit location (the wharf has been completely transformed) the second part of the evening started with international guest (and one of my faves) Theophilis London performing to a chic Sydney crowd under the CC logo.
The Little Black Jacket exhibition is at Pier 2/3 in Walsh Bay until November 11. Entry is free.