The Chanel Suit

Image courtesy of Thames & Hudson, http://www.marshallmatlock.com, 1958.

Coco Chanel is hailed as a fashion revolutionary for her many innovations to women’s fashion. Her designs were streamlined, slightly masculine, and absent of lace, frills, and other overtly feminine details relating to the “corseted silhouette” that was common of the early 20th century. One such example is the famous “Chanel suit,” worn by Marie-Helene Arnaud in the above photograph by Sante Forlano for the 1958 issue of Vogue France. 

The Chanel suit has been described as “a symbol of empowerment for the modern woman,” partly because it draws inspiration from men’s suits. However, this suggests that women can achieve liberation from gender inequality only by imitating their male counterparts, thus perpetuating the idea of male superiority.

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