The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

A Century of Chanel: Timeless or Tired

Art by: Pauline Forman

In 1915, Coco Chanel officially opened her first Couture House and set out to revolutionize the fashion industry with her strong, feminist ideologies and groundbreaking ideas about what women’s clothing could evolve into. Chanel cemented her brand so firmly into the fashion world that even now, over a hundred years later, her name is still synonymous with luxury and high-end fashion to even the most uninformed on the intricacies of the industry. 


Although Chanel is so well known, in recent years the brand has been receiving less favorable reactions, especially when compared to the reviews from the 80s and 90s, when some would consider Chanel to be at their prime.


As mentioned before, the 80s and the 90s were the most iconic years for Chanel couture, and even people who are less pleased with their current work still remember these collections fondly. The death of Coco Chanel herself in 1971 greatly shook the company and the fashion world, but the appointment of Karl Lagerfeld as artistic director in 1983 restored Chanel to everything it once was. Lagerfeld revitalized everything that people adore about the brand; the blacks and whites, tweed suits, pearls and chains, gold accents and plaid. 



Following Lagerfeld’s death in 2019, Chanel appointed Virginie Viard, a member of Lagerfeld’s creative team for over 30 years, as artistic director. The differences between the two directors’ styles are certainly noticeable, and I would not disagree with anyone who says the decrease in positive reception is due to the change in leadership. The Chanel shows of recent years have definitely been different, and after having the same director for over 30 years, a shake-up was likely to shock people. Lagerfeld’s work is so beloved by the public that any new spin on his specialized Chanel aesthetic was bound to make people skeptical of the change. In fact, his legacy is so immortal that last year’s Met Gala was themed after his work and iconic style. 


This Met Gala was, in my opinion, one of the best and the internet seemed to agree. I remember my social media was blowing up with people gushing about Anne Hathaway and Dua Lipa’s elegant dresses. Every guest seemed to really understand how to meet the expectations of the theme, which says a lot about how identifiable Lagerfeld’s style is, and the reactions on social media proved that the appreciation for Chanel has not completely fizzled away.


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Chanel clearly still has a hold on people’s hearts, and the death of Karl Lagerfeld does not have to mean the death of Chanel’s legacy, as proven by the one and only Margot Robbie and the legendary Barbie movie. Not only did Robbie shine in multiple Barbie-esque Chanel looks during the press tour, but Viard also designed four looks for Robbie for the film, three suits and a dress, as well as many other accessories like hats, bags, sunglasses and jewelry. Barbie is effortlessly and perfectly dressed for whatever her day holds, making Chanel an obvious choice to include in her wardrobe, as Coco Chanel was known for that very same easy elegance.


These beautiful, iconic Barbie looks were impossible to miss, like the Chanel logo on her purse and necklace, and even more difficult to dislike. These looks reminded people of what they adore about the brand’s style and how it gracefully balances femininity and power, the perfect way to describe Barbie and her designer of choice.



2023 was a remarkable year for Chanel’s representation between the Met Gala and “Barbie” unveiling themselves mere months apart, and it was fantastic press for the brand that has recently been suffering in the public’s eye. The loss of Karl Lagerfeld was a tragedy for the brand and the fashion industry as a whole, and while it could take a little while for Chanel to find its footing again, what the brand created in its prime is the definition of immortality. As long as there is still an appreciation and admiration for classic Chanel, and the trademark aspects of their work live on through hit movies and red carpets, Chanel will always be a trailblazing, timeless fashion house that will surely outlive and overcome any criticisms directed towards its recent collections.


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Hi! I’m Annie Gleydura, A Magazine’s editor-in-chief. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine.

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