We take a look at what is being said about the V&A’s latest fashion exhibition…

(c)Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Guardian: **** “The subterranean Sainsbury Gallery is an appropriately sleek setting for a show that is a love letter to modernist chic. Elegant gunmetal grey mannequins pose like cocktail party guests. Low lighting catches the gleam on their clavicles, so that they look almost real. But the challenge of this exhibition – which carries a designer price tag of £24 a ticket – is that Chanel’s understated elegance lacks fireworks. It cannot match the soaring emotion of Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty, nor the sugary fantasia of the Christian Dior retrospective, with its acres of cream cake-rich gowns on which to gorge.”

Evening Standard: ***** “Chanel remains somewhat of a mysterious titan of the 20th century. Nazi collaborator or resistance fighter? From abject poverty to dictating dress codes for high society. Her ideas disrupted the status quo, but ultimately became synonymous with the most polite of bourgeois dressing. She may have painted her world in black and white, but the shades of grey remain prescient.”

Quintessentially.com: “Every room instils awe and wonder with its sumptuous display, lighting and music, and you can’t help but continue walking through with a sense of child-like giddy excitement.”

Bloomberg.com: “London’s V&A Museum has been staging blockbuster fashion exhibitions over the past decade: The theatrical and punk “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” show broke attendance records; the museum was open overnight to accommodate demand. And “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams,” with all of its exquisite tulle, taffeta and tailoring, became the museum’s best-attended show of all-time.”

NEW YORK – MARCH 24: Actress Marilyn Monroe gets ready to go see the play “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” playfully applying her make up and Chanel No. 5 Perfume on March 24, 1955 at the Ambassador Hotel in New York City, New York. (Photo by Ed Feingersh/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The Daily Mail: **** “No exhibition is a biography and such shows are ultimately about the fashion. But even as I departed, swooning with admiration and delight at the clothes, I found myself with more questions than answers about the real Gabrielle Chanel.”

The Independent: **** “Practicality, as we soon learn, was an integral part of Chanel’s oeuvre. The exhibition celebrates the designer’s penchant for streamlined garments, clothes that rejected the stiff and restrictive aesthetics that had defined women’s wear just a few years earlier. It also includes details of her deep connection to Britain, including her friendships with figures from high society. While staying at the respective homes of Winston Churchill and the Duke of Westminster, Chanel embraced British sport, which is thought to be how the corresponding aesthetics of tweed and knitted jerseys found their way into her collections.”

The Telegraph: ***** “Coco Chanel had an inconveniently complex private life, which, alongside stunningly sophisticated clothes, the V&A has dutifully preserved.”

Culture Whisper.com: **** “Chanel’s streamlined silhouettes feel utterly relevant and modern for a woman of today. It is a wonder that 100 years have passed. Clean lines, fluid material, muted colours – black, white, and beige – fine wool, cotton and tweeds, some ensembles resemble Prada’s AW23 collection strikingly. It is practical, elegant and incredibly cool. It is quiet and luxurious yet miles ahead of today’s quiet luxury. It makes you want to live in the 1920s when modernity was still a dream and meet this young woman who created a style to embody the world finally opening itself up to women.”

(c)Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Glossary Magazine.com: “While the exhibition doesn’t shy away from Chanel’s complex and often controversial personal life, with a section that alludes to her reputation as a Nazi collaborator, as well as suggestions that she was in fact a member of the French resistance, it is her clothes that are the undisputed star of the show, as they should be. “

The Upcoming: ***** “Each room feels like an event, the lighting bringing the best out of the garments, from the 1920s silk dropped waist dresses to the advent of the “little black dress” to the room full of evening dresses, leisurely shimmering in dim gold light. A bright white room charts the evolution of the “invisible accessory”, Chanel No 5, and the subsequent beauty ranges. There is something so charming and evocative about historical beauty tinctures, being as they are less likely to survive through history than clothes. She wasn’t only a designer but a canny operator in branding, providing the blueprint for many other fashion houses.”

(c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The exhibition is on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum until the 25th February 2024.


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