Curse you, Coco.

coco_chanel_14_V_16jul09_chanel_pr_b_426x639Chanel best look

Here’s our Coco, dressed in an early version of her revolutionary suit in the 20s, then again in the classic 60s version. Love her or hate her, she set the tone for how powerful women dressed for a century. Her basic jacket, top and skirt became a high class, comfortable signifier for every upscale woman who needed to walk into a room with confidence, long before women were supposed to do that.
For people who sew, making a Chanel jacket has become something of a Holy Grail. Traditionally, the jackets are make from a loosely-woven boucle or tweed that unravels with the slightest touch. Rather than traditional padded tailoring, the jackets are made by quilting the wool directly to a silk lining, making them maleable and light, like a sweater, yet more structured. The high, tight armholes allow freedom of movement but require numerous fittings. Much of the jacket is hand-sewn to give it a mysterious haute couture simplicity. Tacking on the famous chain weight at the bottom can take hours. The trim can take days. To buy an haute couture (made-to-measure) version can cost upwards of 40,000 Euros–more than $50,000. Making one of these jackets, which take 70 to 100 hours of labor, is tedious and maddening.
So how did I end up making four different Chanel jackets, in a variety of vintage styles, using four different construction methods, in less than 18 months?
Curse you, Coco.

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