Gabrielle Chanel – Manifeste De Mode: virtual experience

This amazing Chanel exhibition has been extended until 18 July 2021! As part of the Night of Museums 2020, the Palais Galliera offered us a virtual tour of the exhibition ‘Gabrielle Chanel, Manifeste De Mode. An excellent solution for those who can not yet travel to Paris.

This online guided visit can be found here:

We are treated to a tour by people who are passionate about fashion and are experts in their field.

All wearing Paris black!

(And all masked up – due to the COVID-19 Pandemic – which seems unnecessary for a virtual tour.)

Journalist Monique Younès guides us through the exhibition of clothes, perfume, and jewellery, and chats to the curators of the exhibition, as well as the head of the accessories department for a focus on jewellery.

Feel as if you’re eavesdropping on the experts

They decided to call the exhibition a manifesto because Chanel went against the dress codes of the time and created her own fashion manifesto, her own – at the time – radical vision of fashion.

Gabrielle Chanel - Manifeste De Mode: virtual visit

The garments are chronologically displayed, and like Dior’s exhibition beginning with his iconic nipped waist white jacket and full black skirt.

This Chanel exhibition begins with a long flowing loosely waisted top, which shows the new type of elegance – simple lines, comfortable – that Chanel embodied. 

The exhibition also features the little black dress, also radical for the times, designed just before the end of WW1.

It’s fascinating to hear these fashion experts discussing not only the clothes and their history but also the materials the garments are made from and how and why designers use a particular fabric, including the specifics of design techniques and what they achieve.

Even the fashion dummies are bespoke Chanel

Gabrielle Chanel - Manifeste De Mode: virtual visit

An unexpected yet interesting discussion is had about the dummies showcasing the garments.

They were specifically designed for this Chanel exhibition to convey the idea of comfort and movement of the clothes.

The dummy designers took inspiration from Chanel in how she stood, and the way she held herself.

There is also a lot of beautiful Chanel jewellery displayed, in all its bold glorious simplicity, with a mix of costume and precious stones. 

Let’s not forget Chanel Perfumes

The exhibition also includes Chanel perfumes, with a discussion about their history as well as a few anecdotes, including a little chat about Marilyn Monroe’s famous quote about going to sleep with nothing but a few drops of Chanel.

I never really thought of this, but Chanel designed her perfume bottles with her trademark simple clean lines, the same as her clothes.

Image right:
Parfum N°?5 1921
Glass, black cotton cord, black wax seal, printed paper
Paris, Patrimoine de CHANEL
© Julien T. Hamon

Why should I bother watching this virtual tour?

While the discussions are fascinating, this online tour is let down by the camera work.

I’d love the camera to linger longer on the clothes (and jewellery).

However, there are some interesting close-ups of details such as pockets, embroidery, and particular design techniques.

It’s also annoyingly filmed vertically rather than in landscape! 

And yet this is still a wonderful online tour, presented by experts who are at the core of fashion in Paris giving us a-the-scenes-look into this amazing exhibition that most of us frustratingly did not get to see.

Image above: “Comet” brooch Collection “Bijoux de Diamants” 1932
Platinum, old European cut diamonds
Paris, Patrimoine de CHANEL
© Julien T. Hamon

Have you seen this Manifesto Exhibition or even the Virtual tour previously? Please share your experiences in the comments below or on Twitter @MaVieFrancaise

NOTE: EXHIBITION EXTENDED UNTIL 18 July 2021 —The Palais Galliera, the City of Paris Fashion Museum, reopens its doors after extension work and presents the first retrospective in Paris of a unique and remarkable fashion designer: Gabrielle Chanel (1883-1971).

Image credits:
All YouTube and The Palais Galleria, the City of Paris Fashion Museum.

Further reading:
1. – Chanel exhibition at Galliera extended
2. Vanity Fair – “Gabrielle Chanel: Manifeste de Mode” Is the First Paris Retrospective for the Fashion Icon
3. Book ‘Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto‘ by Thames and Hudson

About the Contributor

Cynthia Karena

I am a freelance journalist, TV researcher and media trainer based in Melbourne. I write about tech, film, sustainability and travel among other things - and of course, all things French for You can find me on Twitter and Instagram

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One Comment

  1. Aida May 26, 2021 at 1:23 PM - Reply

    Ha ha I agree about the camera work. It seems endemic that people think they can just pick up a camera or phone for a virtual tour and then only focus on the speakers. Much more detail could have been covered with the camera pointing towards the creations and not the commentators. And subtitles in English would have also been a great help given this is for people who can’t get to Paris and see the exhibition. I gave up because I didn’t want to watch a conversation in a non native language to me. I wanted to see the fabulous fashion and accessories. Wish more museums would do virtual tours though. Because for things I’m Interested in I would pay for (with translations for non speakers) lots of money there Museums, should you care to pursue this.

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