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Black and white photographs of fashion designs by Gabrielle Chanel - the photograph on the right is of Chanel herself sitting at a desk designing
Photograph: © Julien T. Hamon / © Henry ClarkeComposite image: Dress spring – summer 1925 (© Julien T. Hamon) / Anne Sainte - Marie in a Chanel suit (© Henry Clarke , Paris Musées, Palais Galliera, ADAGP) / Gabrielle Chanel (© Henry Clarke , Paris Musées, Palais Galliera, ADAGP)

The NGV has announced a blockbuster Chanel fashion exhibition

The exhibition opens December 4, coinciding with the return of the NGV Gala

Nicola Dowse
Written by
Nicola Dowse

An exhibition of one of the world's most influential fashion designers will land in Melbourne this summer. Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto is the first exhibition in Australia to solely focus on the fashion contributions of 20th-century French designer Gabrielle (aka Coco) Chanel.  

The exhibition is coming to the NGV in partnership with Paris's leading fashion museum, the Palais Galliera, which launched this significant exhibition in autumn 2020. Melbourne will be the first city outside of France to host the exhibit, with the gallery presenting more than 100 Chanel garments from the Palais Galliera, Patrimoine de Chanel (Chanel's archives), as well as from additional public and private collections. The NGV will also be drawing from its own holdings, bringing out some never-before-seen acquisitions such as a white lace 'Evening dress' (spring-summer 1933) and a shirred red silk velvet and marabou-lined 'Evening cape' (circa 1924-26).

Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto presents Chanel's work across a series of thematic and chronological sections, exploring her enduring influence on fashion, as well as in perfume, jewellery and accessory design. Importantly for Melbourne audiences, the exhibition features some of Chanel's earliest use of black to connote modernity, as well as her lace gowns, tweed suits (made famous by the likes of Jacqueline Kennedy and Princess Grace of Monaco) and beaded garments. Chanel was pivotal in redefining fashion for women in the 20th century, creating garments that offered a sense of luxury alongside comfort, even championing the longstanding fashion staple that is the little black dress. 

It gets better though. The official opening of Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto on December 4 also coincides with the return of one of Melbourne's hottest events – the NGV Gala. It is the first time the black-tie event has run since 2019 when the gallery hosted Salt-N-Pepa alongside its Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kaws exhibitions. 

Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto runs from December 5 to April 25, with tickets for both the exhibition and gala on sale now. 

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