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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Culture Chanel, The woman who reads

"Culture Chanel, La femme qui lit", is a groundbreaking exhibition conceived by international curator Jean-Louis Froment, for Cà Pesaro in Venice, where books and artworks from Coco Chanel's Paris apartment are on display for the first time, until January 8, 2017. Nothing has changed in "Mademoiselle Chanel's" first-floor apartment on Rue Cambon 31. The walls of the mythical spiral staircase are still lined with mirrors, allowing Coco to see, without being seen, the models, the customers and the fashion show. Two distinct spaces: downstairs, the staging, upstairs, the workshops and she, in the center, the link between luxury and work.

The apartment has not changed. No one has dared touch the brown fabrics of the divans, the walls of faded Byzantine gold, the Chinese screens from Coromandel transformed into doors, the mirrors and the dark lacquered woodwork. As in the past, vases of freshly cut flowers, animals in bronze, wood, brass and stone, and numerous small sculptures, often acquired in pairs and placed symmetrically in mysterious arrangements, take pride of place. The numerous lion figurines testify to his love of Venice, but also recall his astrological sign. What's different is the number of books, many of which were carefully selected, packed and sent to Venice. Books, with luxurious leather bindings and chased gold titles, are the protagonists of the exhibition at the palazzo named Ca' Pesaro until January 8, 2017. It showcases a little-known aspect of Gabrielle Chanel's life and thought in the intimacy of her apartment. Donna che legge aims to show her unconditional love of reading.

These are not just any books, but volumes received from the hands of Cocteau, from Max Jacob, illustrated by Picasso himself or dedicated by Apollinaire. It's no coincidence that Jean-Louis Froment, specialist in contemporary art and curator as well as founder of Bordeaux's CAPC (a museum dedicated to experimentation), has also accompanied the careers of many artists, including Mario Merz and Daniel Buren,
Richard Long, among others, has taken an interest in her. A fervent defender of all works representing a form of resistance, of disobedience to the prevailing stupidity,
Jean-Louis Froment decided to dedicate this exhibition to Mademoiselle Chanel's personal library. Culture Chanel is the seventh chapter in a touring project planned and produced by the Maison, which has already made stops in various Asian and European countries, exploring the personal universe of one of the most emblematic women of the 20th century. Jean-Louis Froment is just the person to unravel "the Chanel rebus" and stage an exhibition that gives the keys and allows visitors to "penetrate the mysteries of this legend incarnate as an archaeologist would when discovering and opening an Egyptian tomb whose existence was known, without being able to imagine what it reveals".

Gabrielle Chanel's life story goes beyond the incredible. Her early years were not easy: poor family, itinerant salesman father, motherless and finally, abandoned in a convent. A few years later, she's a young woman courted by charming, cultured, wealthy, aristocratic men, but who can't marry her because of their different social classes.

We can recall the heartbreak for the greatest love of her life, Boy Capel, who married another woman for the same reasons. She was adored by artists (from Picasso to Picabia), poets (Cocteau, to name but one), writers and dancers (Diaghilev). Finally, the biographies of this eternal disobedient are full of anecdotes: not least the one about how she sacrificed her hair
after accidentally burning it.







This radical and famous scissor stroke was then widely copied by many women. Changing women's heads was her trademark. She succeeded in convincing them to follow her for the rest. The change doesn't stop there. Everything gets shorter.
From haircuts, she moved on to skirt lengths, and another major revolution was the feminization of pants. The choice of fabrics was revisited.
She chose jersey, which until then had been used only for pyjamas and knickers. In this major stylistic purification, she abandoned anything that overloaded, cluttered or restricted a woman's movements. Gone were the big hats, corsets, pompoms and all those trinkets! Under her creative fingers, a new woman takes shape, a woman free to move elegantly in a world made for her.
world that's made for her.

Women are conquered. We can read all this in magnificent biographies, but what's missing is an analysis of the deep mechanisms of his mind, the links and short circuits that give rise to these changes. Jean-Louis Froment examines his personality
What's behind this name, synonymous with beauty and luxury the world over? Above all, how can we explain "Chanel Time"?
whose inspiration, hatched more than a century ago, nevertheless remains alive, timeless, never ceasing to renew itself as if driven by an energy that defies the wrinkles of time?"

CHANEL N°5 perfume bottle label Republication and enlargement Grained embossed paper CHANEL Patrimoine Collection, Paris ©Collection Patrimoine de CHANEL / photo Thierry Depagne.

How can we explain, for example, the Chanel N.5 fragrance that was unsurprisingly the subject of one of Jean-Louis Froment's explosive investigations at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris in 2013?
When it came out in 1921, the sleek bottle did away with the bulging bottles of the day. Another radical gesture from Coco: a graphic, minimalist bottle in drugstore glass.
The choice of typeface was inspired by the Swiss Dadaists, primarily Tristan Tzara. As for the essence itself - synthetic for the first time - it opens the door to a perfumed century. In fact, Coco was not launching a new perfume, but creating a ready-made, a cult object celebrated by Marilyn. "What I wear to bed? - Chanel N.5", painted by Warhol, is now one of the most sought-after items in the world.
The secret of this eternal youth? Jean-Louis Froment answers: "It lies in her relationships with artists, poets and writers. She learns the elements of structure
She doesn't steal their images, but their methods. That's why
for this reason, she will never give them the opportunity to substitute her in the
Coco is looking for ways of thinking, not products.
not products.