Monday, July 27, 2009


I've just read the latest book on Chanel: Coco Chanel Summer 62. What a beautifully crafted and intimate portrait of the designer at the height of her powers. It's a very moving journal of sorts of a day in the life of the Couturier.
The shock of it is the joy and seriousness of the woman. We all know about her sharper edges . The steely determination, the tough broad exterior/interior, but have rarely been given the opportunity to see the person capable of obvious generosity of spirit and just plain joy. This
beautiful chronicle of the finishing touches to a spring collection complete with images of fitting , cheer leading , moments of contemplation are all shot by Douglas Kirkland.
He manages to take his camera and penetrate the veil that surrounds her. The warmth and love of her craft, her intimacy with the models of her Cabine are all crystallized in these images. It makes one want to be a fly on the wall just to witness magic in the making. I've often wanted to see our own Jackie Rogers, a fabulous designer in her own right, in the early stage of her experience in fashion. So many times I've listened to Jackie talk about the old days with Chanel, but have never seen pictures from this fabled time. Douglas has caught Jackie in this book on several occasions before this beautiful defile. Jackie sparkles. Impossibly chic along with others and with such allure. I was incredibly touched to have a window from a time long passed to see her in her youthful glory.
This book is a love letter to a woman who swam against a changing tide like an Olympian. Nine more years would pass and she would no longer be the arbiter of a style whose time had ended. The onslaught of the new guard would emerge and take away the focus and change the worlds eyes forever. The legacy that she left is in its fullest most vibrant glory in this book. I loved every page,every expression and learned just from looking what makes a great designer. The rigor and unwavering commitment she shows for what she sees as correct is splashed through each and every image. Yes, it's a world that no longer exists. You see Baron and Baroness de Rothschild with a sleek young Lee Radziwill in the audience and others who played major roles in high culture then. The appreciation and understanding of what constitutes the art of fashion is so palpable.
There is a lesson in this. I think the lesson is a commitment to giving every ounce of one's soul to making clothes the best they can be. Fit, proportion and artistry can never be traded for sleight of hand. We all must remember that when designing any collection. The times may be different as is the playing field, but the game remains very much the same.

photo by Douglas Kirkland


Cultured Cowgirl and Author said...

I read about your trials and tribulations in the NYTimes. I commend you for finding a forum to lay bare fashion's foibles and inequities. I too blog about fashion, but haven't found the strength to really tell it like it is (I usually defer to Oscar Wilde who defined Fashion as something so atrocious it has to change every season). Still, you can check out my tribute to Nudie of Nudie's Rodeo Tailors at
I still hold to a shred of hope that I can keep Nudie's legacy alive amidst those who will steal his name, brand, designs, and life's work. He failed many times before finding success in his 50's and he was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine (maybe the only designer to be featured?) at the ripe old age of 67. In the 1970's when some thought his golden age was behind him, he shot straight to the stratosphere with clients like Sly Stone and Bootsy Collins, again defining a new funky style and the look of a generation. Push on, brother.

Fluff Chance said...

Thanks so much Ms. Cowgirl. We must all push on , no matter the forces.

Anonymous said...

Chanel's great, except for the whole Nazi thing. said...

Very well written Eric,

Thanks for the post. I saw this book at Clic in East Hampton and I thought it was beautifully produced. I hope to buy it soon!

Myron Smith said...

Hello Mr. Gaskins,
Do check out a new organization looking to support diversity within the design professions.

Anne Corrons said...

Coco was a fabulous woman designer and we miss her in Paris. The fashion world was really different with her!

Chloe C. said...

so happy to have found your site. Came here from BOF & the NY Times article. Watching, wishing the best for you in whatever direction you go next!

Anonymous said...

Just love your comments on Channel and her spirit. Thank you.


amy said...

Whatever the conditions surrounding that glorious slideshow in the NYT today, I still loved the light shining on you and your brilliant body of work. I'll be watching with great interest to see your next iteration. Onward! Amy Flurry