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Chanel: The Vocabulary of Style [Hardcover]

by Jerome Gautier
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 29, 2011 9780300175660 978-0300175660 Slp

Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel (1883-1971) was undoubtedly the most influential fashion designer of the 20th century. Her clothes and accessories have remained perennially chic, and her legendary fashion house continues to exert a powerful sway over today's designers. Jérôme Gautier tells the story of Chanel's iconic style through hundreds of images, many taken by the leading lights of fashion photography, including Richard Avedon, Gilles Bensimon, Patrick Demarchelier, Horst P. Horst, Annie Leibovitz, Man Ray, Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, and Ellen von Unwerth. This innovative volume pairs classic and contemporary photographs, placing fashion plates from Chanel's time alongside those by the house's designer-in-chief, Karl Lagerfeld. For instance, Cecil Beaton's portrait of Chanel appears alongside Lagerfeld's image of Cate Blanchett emulating her, and a classic plate by Henry Clarke flanks an arresting shot by Juergen Teller. 

Through these dazzling photographs, Chanel: The Vocabulary of Style identifies key elements that have defined Chanel's style for generations, such as jersey and tweed, formerly considered menswear fabrics, and the little black dress, which transformed a hue previously reserved for mourning into a statement of elegance. Pearls were her staple, and she often embellished outfits with her signature camellia. Eleven chapters compare the original forms of these enduring trademarks with their later expressions over the years and to the present day, letting the vocabulary of Chanel's style speak for itself.

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Chanel: The Vocabulary of Style + Fashion: 150 Years of Couturiers, Designers, Labels + Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
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Editorial Reviews


“This elegant, beautifully designed volume features hundreds of photographs, both classic and contemporary, often shot by photographers who are themselves legendary.”—Globe & Mail
(Globe & Mail)

About the Author

Jérôme Gautier is a journalist and fashion historian. A passionate collector of fashion magazines, he lives and works in Paris.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; Slp edition (November 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780300175660
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300175660
  • ASIN: 0300175663
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 10 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 57 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Jérôme Gautier (a Paris based journalist and fashion historian), has created a sumptuous ode to Chanel via the greatest fashion photographers who ever lived.

Similar in format to Daniele Bott's Chanel: Collections and Creations, Gautier takes eleven key Chanel style elements and juxtaposes the original forms of the trademarks with current day innovations, letting Chanel's enduring style speak for itself.

Each chapter contains a brief history of the key style element and gorgeous archived and contemporary fashion photographs of models and celebrities:

Chapter 1: The Body Liberated - Chanel's fashions liberate women from corsets

Chapter 2: Little Black Dresses - The LBD and its place in fashion history

Chapter 3: Black into Night - Dresses go to ankle length for day, brushing the floor at night - black is no longer just for mourning

Chapter 4: Baroque Inspirations -Chanel is introduced to Venice by Misia - "queen of modern Baroque"

Chapter 5: 31, Rue Cambon - Chanel buys the building and adds surrounding properties to create Maison Chanel

Chapter 6: Youth and Evolution - Chanel's life - fact and fiction

Chapter 7: Simple Chic - The enduring appeal of Chanel hats

Chapter 8: Androgyne - Chanel creates clothes based on the comfort men enjoy

Chapter 9: From Tweed to Tweeds - Chanel's enduring corded tweed suit

Chapter 10: The Total Look - Accessorizing with Chanel

Chapter 11: Rebel - Chanel Fashion as defiant as the woman herself

At the end of the book is a legend to each fashion photograph. The photographer, model or celebrity, Chanel collection the item came from, magazine or book where it first appeared are all documented.
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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mostly Lagerfeld February 13, 2012
I received this as a requested gift and although it features some beautiful photography, I'm disappointed and annoyed--because I think it's being marketed in a way that would have you believe it's about Coco Chanel--but it's really not. What it does is give her some lip service with a smattering of photos. The balance--roughly 75%--is about Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel magazine ads from the 90's & 2000"s; which I've already been bombarded with for the past 20 years.

I'm interested in fashion history from the early 20th century and wanted a biography / historical timeline of Coco Chanel's collections and was hoping for a substantial coffee table book featuring ONLY that. Does such a thing exist? Or must every recent publication pay homage to Lagerfeld? I'm asking because I'd love a tried and true recommendation if anyone has one.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chanel: The Vocabulary of Style December 30, 2011
This is a wonderful book showing a stunning collection of Chanel's creations both from the past and the present along with multiple shots of Coco Chanel.
The book is large and thick full of spectacular photographs both color and b/w showing the pieces at their best.
The book also contains concise chapters detailing the sources of inspiration behind the creation of the illustrated garments, thus, putting the pieces in a wider context.
This is a highly recommended book for all fans of Chanel and beautiful fashion photography.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Chanel or Lagerfeld? May 17, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Don't buy this book if Coco Chanel is your real interest. Twice now I've purchased a book I thought would be mostly about La Chanel only to find it is mostly eulogizing Karl Lagerfeld. I'm beginning to think that any author who wants to access the Fashion House's historical records can't do so unless Lagerfeld gets top billing. I won't get caught again.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chanel: Vocabulary of Style January 28, 2012
Coco Chanel was the most influential fashion designer of the 20th century. Inspiring later designers such as Jil Sander, Helmut Lang and Donna Karan. She changed the way women dressed forever, creating classic chic clothes for active emancipated women.

Chanel's vocabulary of style - the little black dress, baroque details, androgyny are all presented here. The book cleverly juxtaposes fashion plates from Chanel's own time with the most recent creations by Karl Lagerfeld. The contrast and similarities between archive and contemporary fashion photographs gives this book its charm. The book has masses of terrific photography, by some of the world's most famous photographers, Richard Avedon, Karl Lagerfeld, Nick Knight and Mario Testino are just some of the gifted photographers whose work appears in this volume.
In addition to hundreds of photos, the book has a comprehensive biography of Coco (Gabrielle) Chanel, charting her story from penniless seamstress to fashion icon. An uncompromising woman who defied the conventions of her time, not only in her work, but also in her life.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book December 1, 2011
By Evelyn
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I absolutely love this book. The photography and of course the Chanel pieces are just fantastic. I would definitely recommend to anyone who loves fashion and photography.
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