Chanel A/W 2013


I very seldom go back to posts once I have finished them, but I have been so caught up in the start of term that I don’t think I said everything I wanted to say about the latest set of Chanel adverts.

These adverts (and the picture quality is not great because photography glossy magazines isn’t that easy) are fascinating from the point of view of what they say about femininity.  There are five elements of interest to me here:

  1. The space age/Barbarella-type setting.  The future.  The sixties space race optimism.  The ultra-minimalist stripped-back space ship.  Very exaggeratedly ‘modern’ for a classic brand like Chanel.
  2. The thigh boots which I am assured will be all the rage this year – not with me they won’t, no matter how many how to make the latest trend work for you articles I read,  Shiny black thigh highs are inextricably linked with a certain sort of pre-packaged female sexualiy, often that of women in the sex trade.  This is contrasted with
  3. The very demure little buttoned up Chanel suit with its slight evocation of school uniform with its pleated skirt, and the lady-liked restrained fascinators.
  4. The use of Asian models, which I think also alludes to a certain sort of sexuality, the submissive oriental beauty, geisha-ing away or working the bars in Bangkok.
  5. The use of very traditional women’s craft – knitting and embroidery to conote femininity and also to contrast with the space age setting.  Even when we are all living in space, women will still do embroidery.



This is underlined by the use of baby sugar pink thread and yarn.

It reminds me of the phrase in Roszika Parker’s wonderful foundational text, The Subversive Stitch: ‘to know the history of embroidery is to know the history of women’.  Women and needlecraft as a virtually indistinguishable pairing is the basis for this advert.  Times may change, technology may advance, our lives may change out of all recognition, but women will still do embroidery and knitting with the yarns coded for femininity in their pinkness.

I think these are fascinating images, and having spent a week trying to get students to read corporate identity through pictures as well as text, I think they tell us a huge amount about Chanel and about gender identity.

One thought on “Chanel A/W 2013

  1. I have enough problems with my scissors constantly migrating down the back of the sofa without having to worry about them floating off and interfering with the rocket launcher – oooh! and Gareth is constantly having to fix my hoover cos the discarded ends of my threads tangle around the rolly things at the bottom, just think how much damage they could do to the astro-navigational array, I’d be crashing into a black hole before you know it, and those dresses don’t look like the right sort of thing to wear to balck hole a all.

    What does one wear to a black hole, anyway?

    maybe that’s what they’re working on – all their little discarded ends of threads have broken the instruments and the scissors have kaplooeid the thrusters, so blondie is desperately trying to knit new thrusters but the other girl is thinking, “sod the thrusters, blondie, don’t you kow what a terrible faux-pas it is to wear black to a black hole – it’s like wearing white at someone else’s wedding, you daft cow!”

    Actaully I would watch that star trek episode, I bet Mr data does really complicated interlac or something, maybe fair iisle?

    It has been repeatedly pointed out to me that my imagination should not be left unsupervised, but it keeps escaping.

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