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Coco Chanel for Chanelca. 1927

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Speaking of herself in the third person, Chanel confided to Salvador Dalí that "all her life, all she did was change men's clothing into women's: jackets, hair, neckties, wrists." Referencing the dress codes of early- nineteenth-century dandies such as Beau Brummel, Chanel advocated a system of dressing based on modesty, simplicity, and adaptability. Reflecting the stark sobriety of Baudelaire's "Black Prince of Elegance," many of her suits from the 1920s and 1930s were made in black with white or cream blouses, a color contrast that became a Chanel trademark. Often, a jacket's lining extended to its revers, or lapel facings, a design strategy that Chanel borrowed from military uniforms.

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