- Associate Professor
- Connecticut College
Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel turned everyday women into modernist works of art. While celebrated for her influence in fashion, Chanel has received virtually no attention for her role as costume designer. Her theatrical contributions, however, profoundly influenced twentieth-century modernist performance. Chanel was the first designer to create stage costumes whose provenance was obviously the world of commercial fashion, taking part in the “salon modernism” of Jean Cocteau and Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. This study investigates the relationship of Chanel's couture to neo-classical French drama and to modern ballet (by artists such as Nijinsky and Balanchine). It also examines Chanel’s costumes for several Hollywood and avant-garde European films.