PARIS, Mar 12, 2009 / FW/ — It was in 1909 when the legendary Coco Chanel began her career as a fashion designer, yet there was no sign at the Chanel show last Tuesday of this milestone in the house’s history. What was seen was the iconic Chanel suit that Coco Chanel invented during World War I.
Of course, the Fall 2009 Chanel suit is very different from the original, though the silhouette had remained the same. It’s shorter, even slimmer than its 20th century sister. And, with its white arm cuffs proposed as a floral arrangement (remember your prom), fringed or just as a regular cuff, there is a certain playfulness to it.
Yet, the parallels do not end there. The reason for the Chanel suit was because World War I necessitated women to take over the jobs of men who were fighting the war. It was a dire situation and something had to be done. Out with the hobble skirt and in with the more practical Chanel suits!
We don’t have a world war going on right now, but we have a worldwide economic downturn. Hence, Chanel suits which were proposed mostly in black and white are once again the ‘uniform’ of the working woman, albeit a corporate one, and very far from Coco Chanel’s 1909 workers.
Photos by Thomas Barnes