Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel (French, 1883–1971)
Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1975 (1975.7)
Particularly known for her innovative sportswear designs, Chanel used knits, such as jersey or knit tweed, to great advantage. Here, in this early example, she has created a dress that is both unmistakably stylish and completely practical with elements of construction that serve both decorative and functional purposes. A dress made of supple knitted fabric like this would not require much seaming to achieve a comfortable fit, but here the seams also flatter, emphasizing the slim verticality of the design. Even the braided self-fabric trim serves as button loops at the center front and sleeve cuffs. While the overall design is elegant, Chanel has also created a dress that slips over the head like the comfortable sweaters she first sold in Deauville.