According to an article in Ellie magazine; How Coco Chanel Discovered Her Iconic Tweed, by Ruthie Friedlander, March 2014 Chanel first discovered Tweed in the from of Menswear worn by the Duke of Westminster. In 1924 she began creating her now infamous tweet using a Scottish Factory. Today Chanel tweed is made in the House of Lesage in Paris.
I watched a beautiful video about The making of Chanel tweed on the Telegraph Luxury page. The video makes it clear how innovative and creative Chanel are with their designs, but also how skilled the House of Lesage weavers must be to fulfil the demands set.
We were asked to begin our research by looking at Chanel’s Fall 2013 Ready to Wear Collection.
Fall 2013 RTW Collection:
In the picture opposite a different kind of tweed or woven fabric is created using black velvet ribbons and silver ribbons and thread. The effect is a much large check detail and a metallic sheen or quality to the piece. It’s also interesting to see a different garment shape created from the fabric in the top or cape that covers the shoulders as well as a skirt with a perhaps more traditional (although shorter) shape.
Overall it has the effect of something ultra modern, even futuristic made using an ancient hand based skill (weaving).
Perhaps a more traditional ensemble in terms of shape and garment choices is seen opposite, tweed has been used to make coats and skirts for a long time due to it’s durability. The twist here is I think the bold bright pink colour and the addition of a cape or hood made from tweed with a leather tie fastening. It makes the tweed feel much more contemporary.
The garments and textiles used in their Spring 2014 ready to wear collection had a number of interesting/varied approaches to the construction of tweed. I’ve picked a few of my favourite/stand out examples below.
In the photo a left the raw edges of the top have been left mostly exposed showing the threads of the woven fabric. It gives a much more free almost punk style to the top. It’s a tactile looking garment. Also interesting is the giant slash across the middle of the top, I’m not sure how long lasting this fabric would be as the strength of the tweed is due to unbroken woven strands! They’ve also used thread or ribbon of different widths, colours and textures to create a bold, raw look. The colour hear is also reminiscent of the clashing bright pinks and blacks associated with the punk movement. It’s softened a little by the hint of blue thread running throughout the garment.
I’m not sure if you can call the textile used to create the arms of the coat (see photo left) tweed, it seems more of an new take on that method. It appears to be a mix of neon plastic ribbons and fabric ribbons held together by a fabric woven structure underneath? It’s very bold and striking against a more traditionally shaped main body of the coat. Although in the main body of the coat it seems that neon colours have been woven underneath which are just visible in the dots between the woven chevron shapes. I really like the way they’ve taken the idea of a woven fabric to an extreme here, it’s playful.
Another complete re-working of tweed is seen opposite. Here a combination of fabrics meet half way through a sort of suit jacket. Ribbons are woven together, again with the raw edge exposed at the tops and bottoms. The colours are an assortment of pastel tones with some bright pink thrown in which draws the eye to the pattern created by the weaving process. The ribbons have a crochet appearance which is quite organic looking and a contrast against the more smooth looking top half of the jacket.
The coat left is a really interesting mix of textured fabrics within a red colour scheme. The jacket shape is more formal or traditional but elements have been adapted for a dramatic look. The top half is woven with a mix of different shade of red ribbons and some metallic looking red threads. The bottom half is a tightly woven traditional tweed but in a brilliant red shade. I love how they’ve used the fabric from the top half of the coat again on the pockets for a contrast.
In my final pic from the fall 2016 collection (left) a surprising combination of denim and tweed. For me this is an unusual mix of fabrics because denim is normally associated with informal or casual wear and tweed slightly more formal or at least professional wear. I think part of what makes this work is the choice of soft pink’s and blues throughout the weave of the tweed. if you look more closely at the garment you can also make out an almost pearl like sheen to some of the tweed, I think they’ve incorporated some metallic or pearl threads to the weave.
Chanel’s Fall-Winter 2016/17 Haute Couture collection feels a bit more traditional in terms of it’s colour palette; taupe’s, grey, black, cream, very sophisticated muted colours. Also it seemed like a more traditional use of tightly woven woollen tweeds. The twist or contemporary touches seem to come in the shape of the garments; strong angular shoulders, suits with pants and in the form of embroidery.
An tailored bolero shaped jacket is placed over a layered, almost tiered dress to create a more contemporary shape garment. The embroidery is carefully place, not overwhelming the garment but providing visual points of interest and flow down the garment. It feels a much more subtle arrangement than in previous collections.
The use of tweed here is really subtle, different shades of grey woven into black for a soft effect. The tweed is also interspersed with tiny reflective sequins, as well as the bolder embroidered flowers and forms across the top half of the coat and the arms. I think the use of the embroidery towards the top half emphasises the angular lines of the shoulders and stand up collar.
Opposite – a fairly traditionally woven and coloured tweed gets a modern update with satin trimmings on the collar, tops of the pocket and cuffs. It’s an unusual mix but I think it works because it’s on a formal or more traditional jacket setting.
Another part of the show I think is noteworthy is the decor or background setting. For the show Karl Largerfield made a point of flying in the atelier’s who worked to create the garments seen in the collection. The premiere’s can be seen working with the fabrics and fitting garments to models in the background of the show. They’ve recreated the workshop space that would normally be part of the atelier too. In an interview with Karl Lagerfield about the show he mentions that nobody see’s the ‘craftsmanship’ or the craftsmen that go into making the garments and that they in turn don’t usually get to see the finished garments on show. I mention this because it seems to be within the trend towards show casing ‘craftsmanship’ within contemporary culture today, Chanel have chosen to really pick up on this and champion it in this collection.
In the Making – of the Fall-Winter 2016/17 Haute Couture CHANEL Collection Video you can see the beautiful meticulous process that went into creating the garments (and a couple of glimpses of the use of tweed).
I will finish my musing with this video of the ‘Story of the Fall-Winter 2016/17 Haute Couture CHANEL show.