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V&A to exhibit first Coco Chanel retrospective

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

May 27, 2022


Image: Chanel Manifesto Palais Galliera ©Laurent Vu/SIPA

Coco Chanel is coming to London. The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in South Kensington is to host the UK’s first Chanel retrospective, from the early days when Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel opened her millinery boutique in Paris in 1910, to establishing the foundations of the House and showing her final collection in 1971, the year Chanel died.

The exhibition will open on 16 September 2023, likely coinciding with the London Fashion Week women’s calendar, and will showcase over 180 looks in addition to the jewellery, accessories, cosmetics and perfumes the designer is famed for.

The V&A exhibition is based on the Chanel Manifesto exhibited in Paris at the Palais Galliera in 2020, which chronicled the designer’s revolutionising the world of haute couture. In the exhibition’s timeline it charts her early beginnings with a few emblematic pieces, including the famous 1916 marinière, the jersey sailor blouse, as well as the little black dresses and sporty models of the Roaring Twenties to the sophisticated dresses of the 1930s.

After the Paris exhibition, the Chanel Manifesto was shown in Melbourne, Australia, at the National Gallery of Victoria. The exhibition will be curated specifically for the V&A and feature collections from the Chanel archives as well as pieces owned by the museum.

Popularity of fashion exhibitions

Fashion exhibitions have been a big revenue driver for museums, attracting some of the largest visitor numbers in history. In 2019 the Dior exhibition at the V&A was seen by nearly 600,000 visitors, making it the most visited exhibition in the museum's history. It received over 100,000 more visitors than Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty in 2015, which attracted 493,043 visitors, breaking the record for visitor numbers at the time.

The Chanel retrospective will run from 16 September 2023 to 25 February 2024.

Image: Chanel Manifesto Palais Galliera ©Laurent Vu/SIPA