An Evening With Coco: Fashion Group 1969-“The Theory of Elegance”

Scan from my textual archive: Chanel, The Fashion Group Program. 1969.

During my constant search for fashion accessories texts and archives I ran across an interesting rare program from an event given in December of 1969, by The Fashion Group called, An Evening With Coco. The event was to honor her unique and fabulous style with a party and special performance of the sell out musical “Coco” (Frederick Brisson production of the musical-Katharine Hepburn played Coco. Cecil Beaton designed the costumes)  to benefit the group’s foundation focused on helping develop young talent in the industry as well as advancing women’s health and programs/job opportunities for those who would otherwise not have exposure to them.

The Fashion Group was founded in the 1970s, based on a program which was started in 1928 by seventeen New York women made up of store executives, fashion magazine editors etc. who shared an idea that fashion in America could be more. They wanted equality in fashion for women so that together both sexes could advance “American fashion”.

Coco was still very much alive in 1969 when the event was given – well into her 80s and the program features an interview with her by James Brady, WWD among rare images, quotes, information and stories. “She is the only designer who ever created a spirit as well as a look. And she has been her own best mannequin” (James Brady, WWD).

Chanelisms Coco Chanel Quotes 1969

Chanelisms. Scan from Chanel, The Fashion Group. 1969.

The post focuses on the contents of the program for all of the accessories and fashion lovers out there.  I hope to share some of those lesser known facts and sayings that this program has to offer:

Chanel 101:

She opened her Millinery shop in 1910 and her boutique in Deauville in 1912. Her first official shop was in Paris in 1914 and by 1916 her jersey was featured in Harper’s Bazaar. By 1918 she was leading the industry in Paris and in 1919 she made the “little nothing dress, 1920 the little black dress, the cage dress, pleated skirts and the quilted coat” (Program, page 12).  Other noteworthy moments – she creates Chanel no. 5 in 1922, 1925 she coins the sport tweed look.  In 1928: “Jewelry made of colored glass and crystal. ‘Quality, always quality-this is essential in the perfumery as in fashion’, says Mlle. Chanel” (from page 13 Chanel Non Stop).

Chanel actually closes and stops designing in 1938, keeping her perfume still available and popular until 1954 when she reopens at 31 Rue Cambon and starts designing again. Thus, as a designer she takes quite a long absence and gets back on the horse again!

The Lady and The Legend:

One of my favorite parts of the program is entitled The Lady and The Legend by Tomi Block and it explores the best of the “Chanel” stories and legends.  “All my life I have been called Coco“, she says-

Coco Chanel -The Fashion Group

Chanel vintage History Chanel Timeline Chanel

The Chanel Look (page 10):

“The Chanel Look, as specific as H2O, meant a combination of youth, comfort, jersey, pearls, of luxury hidden away in the perfection of detail, such as sable lining a collar and revealed only when the collar was turned up”. Luce cache and jewels, real or fake, were part of her theory of elegance…

1969 program scan closeup on Coco.

1969 program scan closeup on Coco.

“The essence of the Chanel Look was Chanel herself“….- it finishes that longer paragraph with one of my favorite parts:Combining true and the false, she wrapped her throat and filled in the V of the jacket with a mass of real pearl ropes, jumbled with red and green stones, obviously fake.”

Vintage Red and Green Chanel Jewelry

Chanel. 1969. Image scan.

Chanel. 1969. Image scan.

Coco facts