Experience the adventure of discovering Chanel’s history in a new way with Inside CHANEL. This series of short films to watch as the mood takes you, in whichever order you like, invites you to read between the lines. Each chapter helps you to understand a woman, a House, a vision or the manufacturing secrets from a different perspective, in an almost confidential tone. Here is No. 25.

Gabrielle Chanel has always been in love with America. Land of all possibilities, the United States made her one of the century’s iconic figures, the ultimate embodiment of a woman for whom no obstacle or barrier was insurmountable. Wherever she went, nothing and no one could resist her. “It’s where I made my fortune,” she would say, with a hint of provocation.

In the eyes of America, Coco had an irresistible charm with her fashion, style, fragrances, fiery temperament and piquant sense of humour. The American “élégantes” had already unreservedly adopted her hats, jumpers and flowing jersey looks that finally gave them freedom of movement, prefiguring the advent of sportswear. Given a royal welcome in New York in 1931 and inducted into the Hall of Fame by Vanity Fair the same year, Gabrielle Chanel enthralled and intrigued: who was this woman so fond of freedom, this champion who managed her affairs like the most seasoned businessman? Who was hiding behind this unapologetic lover who had broken free from convention? Who was this woman who seemed so ahead of her time? During this first trip to the United States, she gave a series of interviews in her suite at the Hotel Pierre, parties were held in her honour, and her outfits closely scrutinised. Gabrielle was in high demand in Hollywood, where she met the great Garbo and dressed the MGM stars in CHANEL. Shortly afterwards, she dared to say no to the film magnates who wanted to compel or coerce her to follow their idea of style. Gabrielle Chanel had chosen who she wanted to be and would not renounce it at any price: after all, wasn’t America the land of freedom?

But the New Continent did not begrudge her for turning her back on the industry that was its pride and joy, and would remain loyal to Gabrielle throughout her career. When France took a dim view of her return to fashion in 1954, it was therefore only natural that America would bow in admiration and find that Coco had created a wardrobe meant to stand the test of time: “At 71 years of age, Gabrielle Chanel brings more than style, a revolution,” wrote Life magazine at the time. Two years earlier, in 1952, Marilyn Monroe said that she wore nothing but a few drops of Chanel N°5 in bed. This bold statement would also go down in history, contributing to Mademoiselle’s aura. The “Oscar of Fashion” awarded to Gabrielle Chanel in Dallas in 1957 marked the crowning achievement of her career, making her “the century’s most influential designer”. Portrayed a few years later by Katharine Hepburn on Broadway, and dressing Marlene Dietrich, Liz Taylor, Jane Fonda and Jean Seberg on and off screen, Gabrielle had America in the palms of her hands. For all eternity.

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