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Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel, Little Black Jacket, Exhibition

BERLIN, GERMANY -- Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel revolutionized fashion. She changed the relationship that women had with their clothes in the early twentieth century. Clothes at this time were often cumbersome, and restrictive, conforming to pre conceived ideas about what women in polite society should wear. Chanel demonstrated that women could remain chic and at the same time wear fashion that was loose and comfortable.

Her famous jersey dress in which she used materials that were previously used to create men’s under wear permitted women to wear dresses that were comfortable, loose and unrestrictive.  Other classics designed by Chanel that introduced women to unfussy chic, include “the little black dress," as well as the quilted black evening bag. In the 1950s, and already in her 70s, Chanel created the “little black jacket’’ This tweed, silk lined jacket with pockets became an instant hit.

In his book, “The Little Black Jacket : Chanel’s classic revisited,” by Karl Lagerfeld, and Carine Rotfield (Steidl, 2012), Karl Lagerfeld, Creative Director of Chanel  pays homage to the ‘Little Black Jacket." In particular he pays tribute to its timeless beauty and versatility. This beautiful coffee table book contains one hundred and thirteen photos taken by Karl Lagerfeld, of various personalities wearing the Little Black Jacket, and styled by Carine Rotfield who was style director of Vogue for over ten years.

A travelling exhibition entitled, “The Little Black Jacket,’’ shows the photos from this book.  The exhibition is currently showing in Berlin (as seen in photo 1) after having travelled to the Saatchi and Saatchi Gallery in London and the Grand Palais in Paris.  Karl Lagerfeld chose the raw space of a disused metro platform in Berlin, the U3 Bahnhof and Tunnel on Potsdamer Platz, which has now become an exhibition centre. Karl Lagerfeld was present at the opening night of the exhibition on the 20 November. Personalities that had been photographed in the little black jacket were also there such as the French model and actress Laeticia Castia (as seen in photo 2 with Karl Lagerfeld, and Carine Rotfield ), the British model Alice Dellal (as seen in photos 3 - 4) and Franz Dinda (as seen in photo 5). After the opening of the exhibition the party continued with music by the American Electronic Band, Glass Candy(as seen in photo 6)

The exhibition shows the versality and timelessness of this jacket. One of Karl Lagerfeld’s most famous muses, Ines de Fressange is photographed wearing the little black jacket with jeans, and Kanye West with leather trousers. Princess Caroline of Monaco’s daughter Charlotte Casiraghi is photographed wearing the jacket in a chic ensemble. Astrid Bergès-Frisbey wears the jacket with a touch of glam-punk.

This exhibition shows that the, ‘little black jacket’ is as wearable and relevant today as it was in the 1950’s when Chanel first designed it. As Coco Chanel herself said, “Fashion passes, style remains.’

After Berlin the exhibition will travel to Moscow and Sydney Of course not everyone will be lucky enough to see this iconic exhibition in person and for those that cannot, Chanel has created an online digital exhibition at

Photos 1, 2, and 6 Ambiance photos by Delphine Achard, Courtesy of Chanel.

Photos 3 - 5, Photo call by Franziska Krug, Courtesy of Chanel

Special thanks to Valerie Boecker Public Relations, Chanel, Hamburg Germany.

Editor's note: See below for a video about The Little Black Jacket Exhibiition.