Ensemble, House of Chanel (French, founded 1913), silk, wool, metal, French


Design House:
House of Chanel (French, founded 1913)
Gabrielle Chanel (French, Saumur 1883–1971 Paris)
ca. 1927
silk, wool, metal
Credit Line:
Purchase, The New York Historical Society, by exchange, 1984
Accession Number:
Not on view

This ensemble represents the "little black dress," one of Chanel's most popular and enduring contributions to women's fashion. In all of its layered details, a simple material, wool jersey, becomes elegant through superior tailoring technique. Couture details such as seam binding, carefully arranged pleats, the finely finished hem of the skirt, and hand-sewn belt make this ensemble an example of Chanel's characteristic poverty de luxe, an expensive interpretation of a simple design made of modest materials. Chanel appropriated tailoring details from riding habits, men's wear, and service uniforms in her quest to reduce and refine women's clothing to its simplest and most elegant.

Marking: [label] (c) "Chanel"
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Haute Couture," December 7, 1995–March 24, 1996.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Fashion and History: A Dialogue," December 7, 1992–March 21, 1993.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Four Seasons," April 8, 1997–August 17, 1997.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Cubism and Fashion," December 11, 1998–March 21, 1999.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "CHANEL," May 5, 2005–August 7, 2005.

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai. "Chanel Culture," January 15, 2011–March 15, 2011.

National Art Museum of China. "Chanel Culture," November 5, 2011–December 13, 2011.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "manus x machina: fashion in an age of technology," May 5, 2016–September 4, 2016.