There is not much to say about Chanel that hasn’t already been said. A non-conformist with a classical streak, Gabrielle Coco Chanel– a woman who outraged the fashion industry by using jersey at a time when it was strictly associated with underwear- revolutionized modern woman’s wardrobe and became forever immortalized as the queen of fashion. She gave the world the classic Chanel suit, the quilted shoulder-bag on a gold chain often paired with ivory ballet pumps with black toes, pants for women she initially designed to facilitate travelling by gondola in Venice, made costume jewelry chic with strands of chunky fake pearls and gave us the world’s most famous perfume- Chanel no. 5. Little did she know (or did she?) that her legacy will continue to live on long after her death. Chanel’s natural successor, Karl Lagerfeld, took over the label in 1983. Lagerfeld’s singular ability to astound, exploit and amuse- often all at the same time- took Chanel to the limit. His arrival coincided perfectly with the mood of the moment; a decade when conspicuous consumption and designer labels became the new religion.
“Once upon a time Chanel was old hat. It was only Parisian doctors’ wives who still wore it. Nobody wanted it, it was hopeless,” Lagerfeld stated soon after he showed his first collection for the fashion house. He transformed Chanel and his uninterrupted creative magic made him the biggest inventor of the fashion world. Today, there are many online libraries that provide a timeline of the Chanel’s history, dating from Coco Chanel’s birth to present, but there is only one recommended by Vogue that will take you back to the 1990’s and make you fall in love with Karl’s vision of Chanel. It’s fashion’s most exciting time machine- Chanel Archives. And, if Vogue approves, so do I.
Chanel Archives is an Instagram page that is being carefully and skilfully curated by a 20-year old student from Liverpool. It counts more than 80k followers (including Naomi Campbell and Caroline de Maigret) who share their passion for all things haute. It provides a fresh perspective on Chanel’s most high-voltage, decadent, uncompromisingly modern collections. Double C-logo branded bikinis, bucket hats, oversized hair clips and rapper’s chains, baggy boy shorts held up with suspenders, pastel tweed suits and… much more! From quilted ankle bags inspired by Lindsay Lohan’s 2007 alcohol monitoring ankle bracelet to a gold chain water bottle holder, this archive preserves it all. The mastermind behind the page was kind enough to tell me a bit more about himself, the page he successfully runs and his eternal love for fashion. His name is Ryan and he could not be more en vogue!
Ryan, at the risk of sounding cliché, why Chanel?
What Karl was doing for Chanel in the 1990’s (my favourite decade) was about making fashion fun and playful, experimenting with colour and not being afraid to be kitsch in his designs to keep things interesting and to show fashion that Chanel, which has a reputation of being a stuffy, serious and reserved fashion house, doesn’t have to be so serious. Which is everything I love about fashion, fashion should be fun.
‘May my legend prosper and thrive. I wish it a long and happy life!’ As usual, Coco was ahead of her time. Do you believe Instagram page Chanel Archives contributes to her vision of timeless couture?
Although I acknowledge the influence Coco had on fashion and still has today, her taste and aesthetic is far away from what I find visually interesting, which Is why I focus entirely on the Karl era at Chanel on this Instagram archive.
The evolution of Chanel is based on two people, the queen Coco Chanel and the Kaiser Karl Lagerfeld. Chanel’s original attitude towards fashion was modernised but the signature tweeds, pearls, boucle jackets and quilted handbags remained. What are your thoughts on Coco’s legacy in Karl’s era? Had he ever overdone it?
Looking back at the past decades at Karl’s collections at Chanel, one could say he overused the pearls, tweed, etc. But, for whatever reason, it works… possibly because it is Chanel and people are more forgiving.
Is there a particular 90’s supermodel you consider to be a Chanel ambassador? Between Claudia, Linda and Inès, which one would you choose and why?
I would say Brandi Quinones represented Chanel perfectly from when she started in 1993. She was only 16 when she had her first campaign for Spring 1994 collection and she brought the sassy, sexy and youthful vibe I think Karl was going for at the time. Brandi was and is always my favourite to watch at the runway shows.
The iconic couturier believed luxury fashion should be comfortable. Do you believe Chanel today stands for comfort as much as it did while Coco Chanel was alive?
I think in 2017 that statement definitely stands more true than ever, especially in the ready to wear collections.
If you could choose just one Chanel outfit, which one would it be? Is there a particular collection/outfit that ignited the love for this fashion house?
My favourite collection of all time, not just Chanel, would be Chanel Spring 1995. This was the inspiration to start my archive account, as I explained before it is everything I think fashion should be, fun and playful.
Enough about Chanel (is that even possible?). I want to learn a bit more about you. Who is Ryan? Are you an active figure in the world of fashion or an avid fashionista?
I’m a 20 year old student from Liverpool, UK. I’m currently taking A-Level fashion so that I can go to University in 2018 at London. I have always been a creative individual and my goal is to make it in the world of fashion, to be involved behind the scenes in fashion advertising in particular, I couldn’t imagine another industry I’d want to be involved in.
For Amra’s Haute Life, Ryan selected ten of his all-time-favorite Chanel outfits. Check out the photos bellow:
Claudia Schiffer, Spring/Summer 1995
Brandi Quinones photographed by Karl Lagerfeld, Spring/Summer 1994
Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Carla Bruni photographed by Steven Meisel for Vogue, March 1994
Claudia Schiffer photographed by Karl Lagerfeld, Spring/Summer 1995
Stephanie Roberts, Fall/Winter 1992.
Helena Christensen and Claudia Schiffer photographed by Karl Lagerfeld, Spring/Summer 1995
Linda Evangelista, Autumn/Winter 1991
Claudia Schiffer photographed by Karl Lagerfeld, Autumn/Winter 1992
Naomi Campbell, Spring/Summer 1994
Naomi Campbell, Spring/Summer 1994
Cover Photo: Coco Chanel Apartment, Harper’s Bazaar UK.