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Back to Coco Chanel Interview 1959

Back to Coco Chanel Interview 1959

Coco Chanel gave this interview in 1959. The incredible feeling of this interview: “It is happening TODAY”, “Nothing changed since1959”… Coco Chanel gives an expert opinion about style, copy, trend, meaning of the trend and fashion.

We can agree or disagree with her opinion, but the ACTUALITY of her understanding of fashion industry is incredible.

There’s something to be noted, but quiet hard to translate: the language of Coco Chanel. When she speaks about fashion, she makes the associations and uses different terms like a confectioner. She used many old-fashion expressions of someone who used to work in bakery making pastries. It is something of a personal note, making a very special touch to the character of this great woman.

Journalist: Mademoiselle Chanel, can you tell us what fashion trend will be this year?

Coco Chanel:No

Journalist: Why not? You don’t know?

Coco Chanel: No, I don’t know! And if I’d knew, I wouldn’t tell you!

Journalist: But how is it possible that you don’t know?

In 3 weeks, you present your new collection.

Coco Chanel: Yes, yes, but in 3 weeks we can do a lot of things, including changing the fashion. You understand? Because it’s going very, very, very fast! That it is impossible. In fact, I never finish any dress. And I don’t know what it will be. I don’t finish the dress until the last minute. I work on the dress… Because fashion is very much like that …… You know that.

Journalist: You work until the last day?

Coco Chanel: Ha, until the last day you can even say until the last night.

Journalist: Fear to being out of fashion?

Coco Chanel: Yes, it is a fear of being out of fashion. I take away, I take away, I take away everything I created, and then I find useless.

Journalist: What state the collection is now?

Coco Chanel: Phew! In pieces, sir, in pieces. And I tell you the truth… Yes…

Journalist: Really?

Coco Chanel: Yes, it is totally true.

Journalist: The fashion for the past several years has often been eccentric. Are there any eccentric trends you tolerate?

Coco Chanel: I didn’t find the fashion eccentric. I found it extravagant which is not the same thing. And I don’t like extravagance.

Journalist: Is the moved waist an extravagance?

Coco Chanel: No, no, no. It’s a question of taste, what you want, but it’s not an extravagance.

Journalist: A fashion trend that imitates a historical bygone era is this extravagance?

Coco Chanel: Phew… sounds stupid to me. You understand. It’s a past time. The fashion is not that, you understand. Fashion is going forward, not backward. We don’t move back, we don’t “sugar up” things. We have to live with our own time.

Journalist: Is that something appropriate?

Coco Chanel: No, I would rather think of 1960th than of 1958th.

Journalist: What is more difficult about your profession?

Coco Chanel: Oh… to allow women to move easily… And don’t feel disguised… don’t change the attitude… don’t be in the same manner, as a dress in which we “stuffed” her… It’s very difficult, but you understand it. I believe this is the gift that I have. So, tempted by this donation… I think that I have…

Journalist: Do you know what in the human body moves and what does not move?

Coco Chanel: Ha yes, and the human body moves all the time, even when we don’t want it to move. See right now if I don’t want to move, and talk to you calmly, it’s very difficult for me. I move. If I would have a costume that bothers me, I wouldn’t move. Because I would be afraid that it would displace. Well, I don’t mind mine, it couldn’t move, it can move, it can do whatever it wants. It holds…

Journalist: Take one of your tailored suits from last year for example. The ones you created for Marie-Helene Arnaud. These two suits are still in fashion for a few weeks?

Coco Chanel: No, no, no. It’s a question of taste, what you want, but it’s not an extravagance.

Journalist: A fashion trend that imitates a historical bygone era is this extravagance?

Coco Chanel: Phew… sounds stupid to me. You understand. It’s a past time. The fashion is not that, you understand. Fashion is going forward, not backward. We don’t move back, we don’t “sugar up” things. We have to live with our own time.

Journalist: Is that something appropriate?

Coco Chanel: No, I would rather think of 1960th than of 1958th.

Journalist: What is more difficult about your profession?

Coco Chanel: Oh… to allow women to move easily… And don’t feel disguised… don’t change the attitude… don’t be in the same manner, as a dress in which we “stuffed” her… It’s very difficult, but you understand it. I believe this is the gift that I have. So, tempted by this donation… I think that I have…

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Journalist: Do you know what in the human body moves and what does not move?

Coco Chanel: Ha yes, and the human body moves all the time, even when we don’t want it to move.

See right now if I don’t want to move, and talk to you calmly, it’s very difficult for me. I move. If I would have a costume that bothers me, I wouldn’t move. Because I would be afraid that it would displace. Well, I don’t mind mine, it couldn’t move, it can move, it can do whatever it wants. It holds…

Coco Chanel: Take one of your tailored suits from last year for example. The ones you created for Marie-Helene Arnaud. These two suits are still in fashion for a few weeks?

Coco Chanel: Yes, for a few weeks.

Marie-Helene is very beautiful, and skinny. She is very well fit, she is very young. You would think that she is not out of fashion. But she knows very well herself that she will be out of fashion in two weeks. She doubts it anyway, look at her smile.

Journalist: When you look at this tailored suit you find something to complain about?

Coco Chanel: I haven’t thought about it until today. Now that you tell me, I look at it and I say to myself… and now I’ll do this… and I tell you “No”, I won’t change, I won’t do that There are a few things that I will probably do different.

Journalist: Do you have a definition of elegance?

Coco Chanel: I’m sorry?

Journalist: A definition of elegance…

Coco Chanel:  A definition of elegance… Oh, my God… it’s hard. You ask very difficult questions…What is an elegance? Many things, you know… It involves a lot of things… Well… I will tell you; I can tell you what I keep repeating all the time… For me it is a fact, but perhaps not everyone understands. I find that women are always overdressed and they are never elegant enough.

Journalist: Mademoiselle, the dresses you created last year have been imitated or copied around the world. The tailors in almost every country have reproduced your designs in thousands of copies. The Chanel style went to the streets.

Are you satisfied with it?

Coco Chanel: Ha! I am delighted about it! Obviously, this is what I looked for. It was my goal to create a Style. And something more… In my opinion, there is no style in France. There’s a style in a nation, there’s a style when the people on the street dressed like you… And I think I succeeded that people on the street have my style. But I don’t believe in copying, I believe in imitation. It’s already good beginning to be imitated.

Journalist: Being imitated is even more important?

Coco Chanel: It’s even more important… Copying it’s something very difficult, and it’s no longer in practice. You know, we chased all these little tailors… We made a lot of fuss to defend non-existent things… And it always seemed risky to me, which seemed the most ridiculous to me… And it is that we want to defend in fashion… We can’t defend fashion… Why defend it? It’s not a fad if no one sees it. You understand? And we want to defend it…

So, there are a lot of stories like … I don’t know much about it… You didn’t ask me that question, well I tell you that this is another problem too. Not mine but problem of Haute Couture… It’s the senseless fear of being copied. So, for me the copy (being copied) is a success.

There is no success without copy and without imitation…
It doesn’t exist!

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