Exhibition Spotlighting Life of Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel to Land in Shanghai

LONDON — “Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto,” the major retrospective about the life of Gabrielle Chanel, founder of the Parisian couture house, will travel to Shanghai this summer as it continues its international tour after debuting at the Palais Galliera in Paris in 2020.

Billed as the first retrospective devoted to the work of the legendary designer in China, the exhibition, which features items from the heritage collections of the brand, the Palais Galliera, and various international museums and institutions as well as private collections, highlights the birth and evolution of Coco Chanel’s style, the characteristics of her work, the emergence of her codes and her contribution to the history of fashion.

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Shanghai will be the fourth stop in the exhibition’s global tour, after its first international debut at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, in 2021. It then traveled to the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum in Tokyo in 2022, and to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London last year.

The Power Station of Art in Shanghai
The Power Station of Art in Shanghai.

The Shanghai edition will be co-organized by the Palais Galliera and the Power Station of Art with the support of the Chanel brand.

The organizers did not specify how much of the Shanghai version will be based on previous editions, and if there will be an additional part that looks at Chanel’s connections to China or Chinese culture.

The London version, which runs till Feb. 25, added a part that highlights the French designer’s connections to the U.K., as well as a section that showcases her luxurious cocktail suits, and a bigger space for the wide range of the brand’s custom jewelry. About 100 new items were added to the London show, such as a painting of Chanel by Winston Churchill and a red evening gown made for Chanel by the Manchester Velvet Company.

While Chanel never traveled to China, she was surrounded by refined Chinese artifacts. She was known for her love of elaborate Coromandel screens. Two of them can be found inside her former apartment at 31 Rue Cambon. They later became the source of inspiration for Chanel’s fall 1996 haute couture collection designed by the late Karl Lagerfeld and the Chanel Coromandel high jewelry collection introduced in 2018.

Founded in 2012, the Power Station of Art, or PSA, was built as the first state-run museum dedicated to contemporary art in mainland China.

Chanel launched “Next Cultural Producer,” its first museum partnership in Asia via Chanel Culture Fund with PSA, in 2021. It is an open call that invites people to propose group show ideas aimed at revitalizing practices in contemporary Chinese craft and architecture.

In 2022, the partnership resulted in two parallel exhibitions at PSA’s second-floor exhibition hall that showcased the current state and revival of Chinese crafts.

As the second leg of the “Next Cultural Producer” project, PSA and Chanel last year spotlighted 10 contemporary “shaded” architectural projects in southern Chinese cities with an exhibition titled “The Shape of Shadow.”

Prior to the upcoming Gabrielle Chanel exhibition, the company hosted the “Culture Chanel” exhibition in Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou between 2011 and 2013, and brought the Mademoiselle Privé exhibition to Shanghai in 2019.

The brand has also staged three fashion shows in Shanghai in 2001, 2005 and 2009, respectively, as well as fashion shows in Beijing, Chengdu and Shenzhen, in 2016, 2017 and 2023, respectively.

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