Style in my City

Fashion, food, lifestyle and culture in St Albans

Cuckoo for Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel, style icon, adorned with pearls

Chanel is to fashion what the Beatles are to music- you hear a song, love a song, sing along to that song but perhaps you never realised that that song was, in fact, originally a Beatles song. The same goes for Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel. Chanel is responsible for so many staples, features, details, trends that  have become part of our fashion subconscious, that perhaps you never even knew that they were actually brought to you by Chanel herself.

Did you know that Chanel was one of the first, if not the first designer to move away from the Clutch bag, with an aim to free women’s hands, by introducing the shoulder strap to handbags? Her signature chain strap, was in fact inspired by the chain belts that the abbey caretakers wore around their waists in the orphanage where she grew up. It’s deeply ironic that the Chanel bag, inspired by Coco’s humble beginnings, is now a symbol of such wealth.

French Connection’s array quilted bags and accessories, Christopher Place

Chanel gave black an acceptable place in a woman’s wardrobe outside of being just a colour for mourning. She made it glamorous and dignified, and of course from this the infamous little black dress (LBD) was born- and what woman doesn’t have one of those in her wardrobe?

She brought us practical solutions to our wardrobe, like slacks/trousers/pants, and also the frivolous, with her obsession for costume jewellery and in particular, an abundance of pearls.

We can also credit Chanel for making the suntan fashionable. No longer did the wealthy and fabulous strive for snowy white complexions, but instead began their quest for sunkissed perfection. She transformed it’s meaning-no longer a symbol for hard outdoor labour, but instead the sign of the carefree relaxation that comes with being privileged.

Chanel-esque cardigan jacket at Topshop (Right)

Like every great icon, you know it when you see it. The House of Chanel, under the mastery of Karl Lagerfeld, has pioneered the Chanel look throughout the years and it is undoubtedly one of the greatest and most influential fashion houses of all time.

That signature look is simply everywhere you shop. As it was Chanel’s 129th birthday the other week, I went on a quest to see what classic Chanel looks I could find around St Albans town and I was not disappointed.

French Connection must have heard me coming because there was a whole shelf dedicated to the quilted leather bag, in both clutch and shoulder form- as well as mini wallets, purses and sleeves for your phone and iPads. Ah, that really is Chanel inspiration for the modern day shopper!

Topshop had two perfect examples of Chanel’s classic cardigan jacket look. One, was in a the traditional Chanel black and white palette, embracing the trimmed edging detail that she made oh so famous, and the other, was reminiscent of the tweed style that also became synonymous with Chanel.  This particular garment came to epitomise casual elegance, so please ladies pair this well to maintain the chic look.

As for LBD’s, I was really spoilt for choice. My top 3 were;

A beautiful pre-loved Karen Millen dress hiding away in the treasure trove that is the Green Boutique.

LBD at the Dressing Room, 6-8 High Street

A simply stunning lace overlay dress by Day Birger et Mikkelsen that is currently showing off in the window of the fabulous The Dressing Room.

…And a sleek and sexy number, with gorgeous bow detail found in the wonderful Chloe James, brought straight to you from Parisian design house Sinequanone.

Ladies go forth and embrace the exquisite simplicity of the Chanel look. It’s timeless. And if you do, do it well and do her proud- she brought you black for goodness sake, we owe her EVERYTHING.

Sinequanone LBD in Chloe James, 12 High Street

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