Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel
Take Chanel’s jacket, which she designed to counter the restrictive women’s garments of her time. Constructed from comfortable menswear fabrications including the house’s now signature boucle tweed, the piece was cut with a straight silhouette for extra wiggle room and featured multiple functional pockets and panels of lining that made manoeuvring a breeze. “The elegance of clothing comes with the freedom to move,” she summed up. It also comes with the ability to project your own personality, and while the aforementioned wardrobe building blocks are wise investments for any women, the ways in which they can be styled are endless.
Kristen Stewart in Chanel in 2019
Where once the Chanel jacket took on a prim persona (with early adopters choosing to pair theirs with a matching knee-length skirt), by the late ’60s models such as Marisa Berenson were being photographed in a more dressed-down jacket-and-pants ensemble that feels as box-fresh now as it did in 1969. These days we see actor Kristen Stewart wearing hers with combat boots and a crop top, while Katie Holmes adds polish to her red rendition with a matching pout. Recently, the label’s artistic director Virginie Viard sent Gigi Hadid down the runway in a cropped-at-the-waist, sequin-flecked version with only bare skin and strings of pearls underneath. Varied, yes, but no matter how many times the jacket is reworked and reinvented, it remains underpinned by the house’s heritage and Chanel’s own mission to create clothes that “make women feel at ease”. Consider it a combination built to last a lifetime.
Photographed by Jesse-Leigh Elford. Styled by Katherine Green.
This article originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of InStyle.