Published on 01/02/24
In October, 27 French students (Year 11, Year 12 and Year 13) went to see the Gabrielle Chanel Fashion Manifesto at the V&A in London.
This colourful exhibition is the first UK exhibition dedicated to the work of French couturière, Gabrielle “Coco'' Chanel, celebrating her creativity, charting the empire of the House of Chanel and the evolution of her emblematic design style which continues to influence the way women dress today. Born Gabrielle Chanel, she opened her first shop, a millinery, in Paris in 1910. What she did after would change the course of women's fashion and free women. She was not only an avant-gardist but also a pioneer of women’s liberation. Her style was influenced by the strict simplicity of her early years in an orphanage, while her goal was to create luxury with comfort. Chanel got rid of the tight corset, popularised trousers for women and the famous little black dress. One of her maxim's was “Le luxe doit être confortable, sinon ce n'est pas du luxe!”.
A Year 11 student said: “The Chanel trip was fantastic! Not only was the gallery engaging and fun, it was also very educational, as it revealed how Coco Chanel revolutionised the fashion industry. We were also able to visit the beautiful John Madjeski Garden, and the exhibits we passed by were also amazing. Overall, this was a great opportunity for us to see the magnificent jewellery, rebelling dresses and aromatic perfumes of one of the greatest fashion icons of all time.”
A Year 11 student said: “I really enjoyed visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum because I had the opportunity to engage with other French students, visit a beautifully crafted exhibit on Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel, and also enrich my knowledge of the different time periods she lived through. I found that learning about some of France’s history has added interest to my French lessons, as some of the traditions and functioning of the country mentioned in class and in textbooks link back to French past. I also found it useful from the perspective of an Art student, as the way Chanel approached fashion was immensely creative for her time, and some of her uses of colour and composition are applicable to my work. All in all, it was a thought-provoking and rewarding trip, and I feel fortunate to have gone.”
A Year 12 student said: “Taking part in the French trip to the Coco Chanel exhibition at the V&A was extremely interesting and exciting to see so many of her famous and influential works and how they evolved throughout her career. It was also an enlightening exhibition as it displayed letters and documents from when Coco Chanel was arrested due to her involvement in World War II. It was intriguing to learn about her role in the French resistance during WWII as we are currently learning about the Franco-Prussian War in our A level course so it was fascinating to learn more about French resistance in another War. The highlight of the trip was seeing her most classic dress suits and the different variations she created.”
A Year 12 student said: “Going to the Chanel exhibition at the Victoria Albert museum in London was an invaluable experience and one which I will not be forgetting in a hurry. As well as extending my range of French vocabulary and general skills. I enriched myself in the glorious life and work of Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel.”