Chanel's "Little Black Jacket" Exhibition Can Be Seen Online, So Here's How to (Virtually) Attend
Chanel's roving exhibition, "The Little Black Jacket" — a celebration and re-imagining of the Chanel classic — has reached its penultimate city. On October 31, celebrities and modern-day fashion icons kicked off the São Paulo stop of the tour by dancing to a set by M.I.A. and gaping at the gorgeous photographs shot by Karl Lagerfeld. The exhibit heads to Sydney at the end of this week, and then it's over. If you haven't seen the show yet, chances are you're out of luck.
Thankfully, we have the Internet. And in a move we never saw coming, Chanel has done an amazing job with the exhibition's website. No disrespect to Chanel, but couture websites are often difficult to navigate, hiding photographs of their actual clothes deep inside their strange, blinking depths. Not this one, though; it's detailed enough to make us feel like we're there.
The site opens with a fantastic behind-the-scenes video of Karl Lagerfeld photographing the ethereal beauties of the exhibition, and there are even mini-interviews with some of the jacket's wearers, like Lou Doillon and Kiera Knightly, as well as a video demonstrating the making of the jacket itself. But most incredibly, you can see all the photos from the exhibition.
Here's the thing: You can't just skim through these photos on your lunch break. It's a slower, more elaborate experience. The photos swirl around on a black background, tempting you to click them, but there's nothing as simple as a slideshow option or, even more crass, a "view thumbnails" button. You're forced to dedicate real time to viewing the photographs, as though you're walking through the exhibition in real life. And really, any other way wouldn't be right. After all, this is Chanel. Here's how to make it an experience.
1. Dress for the event. If Karl hand-delivered an invitation, would you answer the door in those sweatpants? Fine, you can wear sweatpants, but honor the spirit of Coco Chanel by at least throwing on a tangle of faux pearls, a slick of red lipstick, a scarf around the neck, or armfuls of jeweled cuffs. Of course, if you happened to own a Chanel jacket, it goes without saying that you'll be wearing it reverentially.
2. Serve yourself hors d'oeuvres. What's more iconically French than really great food? If you're viewing the photographs in the morning, treat yourself to a French breakfast of coffee or hot chocolate and a buttery croissant (no supermarket croissants, or you'll be kicked out of the virtual exhibition). If it's afternoon, break out the wine and throw together a perfect cheese plate for you and you alone.
3. Hang out with the In crowd. But not in a creepy, these-are-my-imaginary-friends kind of way. Just spend a few blissful moments looking through photos of the impossibly cool attendees and their effortless style. Take a drink every time you spot Karl. Click on a city name to view photos and videos from the opening receptions and after-parties.
4. On second thought, better lose the sweatpants. After seeing all the Chanel on display in those photos, it just doesn't seem right.
5. Prepare the appropriate aura. The iconic scent of Chanel No. 5 was designed to smell like a woman, rather than an easily-identifiable flower. Boil a little water on the stove and add as many elements of Chanel No. 5 as you have lying around: bergamot, lemon, neroli, ylang-ylang, jasmine, rose, lily of the valley, iris, vetiver, sandalwood, vanilla, amber, and patchouli. (In my kitchen, for example, I'd boil together earl gray tea, lemon, a drop of rose essential oil, and a splash of vanilla extract). It won't be Chanel's scent, but it'll get you in the mood.
6. You'll want a playlist. Karl always snags innovative musicians to perform at the Little Black Jacket exhibit openings, so here's a Chanel-inspired playlist to get you in the mood. It's composed of both classic French songs and current French artists you may not have heard yet, like Zaz and Sexion D'Assaut. Remember, Coco Chanel earned her nickname from her days as a songbird.
7. Virtually stroll through the photographs. Set your browser to fullscreen, turn up the music, and begin to wander.