Last night, Chanel’s premiere supporters flocked to 18 Wooster Street in Soho to toast the opening of Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld’s much-talked-about exhibition, “The Little Black Jacket”—a collection of photographs that showcases Chanel’s iconic cover-up.
Guests including Linda Evangelista, Lily Collins, Pharrell Williams, and Zoe Kravitz crowded into the entrance of the compact gallery space, lined on each side with waiters clutching little black trays of white wine, champagne, and cucumber mint vodka drinks.
Those featured in the forthcoming Little Black Jacket book—which the exhibit is celebrating—scoured the space for their portraits. Of the 113 people included in the tome, there’s a healthy mix of fashion’s big muses (Sarah Jessica Parker, Tilda Swinton, Jane Birkin), fresh faces (Elizabeth Olsen and both Fanning sisters), and even children: Lagerfeld’s beloved godson, 3-year-old Hudson Kroenig, is also pictured.
Each portrait captures the featured personality wearing the iconic Chanel jacket in a unique way: Joan Smalls accessorized her jacket with a pair of Chanel cuffs on her arm, while Aymeline Valade wore a sheer version that exposed her chest.
The portrait of Vanessa Paradis is Roitfeld’s personal favorite. “It’s so subtle,” Roitfeld said. “It just has the mark of the profile and we recognize her.” For the French stylist, what makes the Chanel jacket so iconic is its universal appeal. “I think it’s like a dream of a jacket,” Roitfeld noted. “Everyone is talking about the black jacket of Chanel: It’s from years of family, it’s a trend all the time, it’s an idea of a jacket. It’s very dreamy. I think a dream is very difficult to touch.”
Mad Men star Jessica Paré, dressed in a bright-colored version, echoed Roitfeld. “What’s not to love?” Paré exclaimed. “It’s kind of the epitome of urban style.”
The jacket’s timeless quality is definitely part of the attraction, something that holds true for both sexes: Kanye West, Theophilus London, and Olivier Theyskens are a few of the men represented.
Alexander Wang, also featured, thinks a man can just as easily pull off the look. “It’s such a classic timeless piece fit for anyone of any character, of any background,” Wang said. “It started as a men’s jacket, so I think the idea of the ambiguity, the androgyny, yet the classic shape and silhouette—it’s something that any designer dreams and aspires to create.” Theyskens agreed: “[The Chanel jacket] is maybe more iconic than [the] smoking.”
Needless to say, the event succeeded in highlighting the jacket’s lasting power. “Everyone recognizes this jacket as the Chanel jacket,” Lindsey Wixson said. “If you mimic it or imitate it, it’s still the Chanel jacket.” And that’s as iconic as it gets.
The Little Black Jacket exhibit is open to the public from June 8 through June 15, noon to 7 pm, at 18 Wooster Street.