Signature Designer Fabric – Chanel’s Tweed

Tweed is synonym with elegance, status and of course Chanel….

A revolutionist at hear, Chanel made everything new – Hailed as the most prominent female designer of the twentieth century Coco Chanel pioneered the concept of relaxed elegance for the modern woman, revolutionizing fashion with a casual and effortless sophistication and defining an modernist aesthetic that even today influences the style of women around the globe.

Her influence prevailed through decades thanks to her signature designs which have been widely copied for the mass market. Yes, Gabriel Chanel was the mind behind countless wardrobe staples, but one like no other remains as an timeless element of style and status, – A fashion legacy itself – the Chanel’s tweed jacket.

Just as many of Chanel’s iconic innovations, the signature jacket in tweed fabric was conceived as a reinterpretation of femininity; as she used to say ” I used to borrow clothes from my lovers’ wardrobes”. The tweed jacket was actually a men’s inspired staple.  The firsts tweed blazers produced by Chanel stopped at the thigh and where paired with pleated skirts, some featured the low – slung brown leather belt which had first appeared in Chanel Russian collections. With the time the relaxed yet structured silhouette evolved into the signature collarless Chanel jacket as she merged  the silhouette of a man’s sport coat with that of the cardigan being less restrictive than other fashion available to women at that time.

In the 50s and 60’s Chanel reintroduced the jacket in pastel colors becoming a status symbol among British aristocracy. It also quickly became a staple among high class american women when it was worn in several occasions by one of her most high-profile and stylish clients from this period – the one and only Jacqueline Kennedy.

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But undoubtedly the story of the jacket that would become the most recognizable Chanel garment ever produced started when she discovered the Scottish tweed fabric.  It was while hunting, fishing and playing cricket at the Duke’s Scottish estate near Lochmore, when Chanel discovered the classic outfits of the English gentleman, designed for every occasion: either fox hunting or boar hunting or sports like cricket, tennis or polo; all made from their respective fabric. It was there that she saw the diversity of tweed, most of which was manufactured at Scottish twill mills

Back in the mid-1920s, Coco Chanel worked with the Scottish factory to produce what would become the iconic tweed fabrics, which she used in many of her designs, including skirts and jackets. Later In the 1930s, Chanel switched manufacturing factories to a location in northern France, and began experimenting with incorporating other types of fabrics into her tweed designs, transforming the traditional Scottish woven fabric into a femenine luxury.

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Supreme fine, light wovens – hand died in pastel shades and jewel tones especially for Chanel – were made on Linton’s nineteenth century wooden looms. The result was soft yet sumptuous multi-hued tweeds, a type which the firm continues to produce to this day using their traditional methods.

Being more durable than other fabrics that Chanel favored, such as jersey, cotton pique, and sailcloth, Chanel developed a fixation with Tweed and it became the main symbol of the House, but also a trend that quickly became popular throughout couture houses in Paris. Thanks to her passion for tweed we have been wearing it for decades and will continue to do so for a long time to come.

Fashion Editor Miroslava Duma, screenwriter Zoe Cassavetes, and director Sofia Coppola, in modern Chanel Tweed jackets – Image courtesy of Chanel

The tweed jacket in today’s fashion scene…

An timeless element of cult – a staple which  like no other fuses comfort, elegance and luxury; a tweed jacket can turn a basic outfit into a dressy one with effortless sophistication.  It is eventful yet urban, and the object of desire of every fashionista. The tweed jacket has become an all time classic worn year after year. We’ve have seen it reinterpreted and reinvented by Karl Lagerfeld during fashion season while maintaining the aesthetic of the original design. But also adopted by many other fashion houses and retail labels, being  a wardrobe staple that can be worn by anyone, adapting to each women’s personal flair.


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