The other day I was making idle chit chat with the Supermarket Checkout Chick, when I noticed that her name badge said she was called Chanel.



This got me thinking a little about how common the Chanel branding has become. Back in the olden days as a Vogue Obsessed 15 year old (1989) I saved up my babysitting money and clothing allowance for 10 months and bought a Chanel belt. It's very 80's and I still have it (pictured above), but I now wear it only occasionally. It has quite a large buckle, and the Chanel logo has become so ubiquitous that I tend to feel the belt wears me. Back when I bought it Chanel was not quite such a household name with a logo recognised the world over.


I was also struck by this when I attended the "Fashion Icons" exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia late last year. Faux Fuchsia, Pamela, Romy and I examined each and every piece of couture on display and discussed them in minute detail, and one thing I found quite interesting was that the buttons on the Coco Chanel designed early 1960's tweed suit were logo-less.



The buttons on the late 80's Chanel suit had the intertwined CC logos (the same vintage as my belt). The Chanel logo, along with other Chanel icons such as the Camellia motif, tweedy wool, quilted leather and the leather woven chain have been cleverly manipulated by Karl Lagerfield each season to put such a brand on the House of Chanel that these things are forever associated with it.



Every time I click around on Pinterest, I am reminded of what a hold the name and brand of Chanel has on the general public now. There's the Chanel Cocktail for instance which popped up in my news feed last week (and who knows if she ever drank this particular mix… it was invented by Harpers Bazaar it seems, and has a Chanel No 5 infused spearmint sprig attached to it).




There are the endless quotes (Audrey Hepburn is a close second in this category). As an aside, I have often felt like making up something inane myself, writing Coco Chanel under it and watching it catch on like wildfire on Pinterest as an interesting social experiment.

There are pages of faux Chanel merchandise

Doormats


Oil barrels as bedside tables (or are they supposed to be perfume vats?)

Highly unattractive bedding


And then there are the parties - Chanel themed Baby Showers, Birthday Parties, Weddings, Engagement Parties, Wedding Showers… from Cakes, to Decor to printed cocktail napkins.





Coco Chanel's key tenants were of simplicity of form, understated luxury, borrowing from menswear and sports wear with fabrics and style, an ease of dressing in an elegant way, the understated detail and I have to say…


 it all seem like it's gone a very long way away from this.


All images bar the belt ones via Pinterest

46 comments:

  1. Good lordy, how very sad it has all become. Growing up, my mother wore Chanel No. 5, and I shall forever associate Chanel with this classic scent, along with the little monochrome two-piece woolen suits and pearls. Today, I see so much Chanel butchered on anyone who can get their hands on it (or knock-offs) and wear it around with the most casual of attire. It really has turned me off from ever buying any of it (I do wear their cosmetics, however, which I love). Sames goes with LV. I saved for an age to buy my Speedy bag when I first set off to work in London many moons ago. It was something special then (and practical as one could lug around all manner of things). Today, it has gone the same way as other "luxury" brands. Sad.

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    1. The highly logo'd bags lost their appeal to me a very long time ago CD as we can access the fakes so easily in Australia (being so close to Asia almost anyone that goes on a cheap packaged holiday to the sun can buy one). LV was one that was so ripped off so early on that I never had a desire for the classic monogram bags.
      It is all a bit sad that the gold plated magic has rubbed off to expose the brass underneath.

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  2. Even I can instantly recognize the distinctive look of a Chanel suit and what a fabulous look it is. Also, I absolutely must compliment you on a very well executed "MaiTai Shim" (shim being a frozen shimmy) in the fab blue dress and Chanel belt.

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    1. Thanks G - that was in a hotel, where I had access to a full length mirror, natural daylight and didn't have a child hanging off me demanding a snack. If only all my selfies could be so good!

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    2. remember when Tom Ford ordered staff to stop selling Gucci to Vicky Beckam and they said "but she BUYS it?" ha!

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    3. Oh yes, and now Vicky is the least of the problem- they have to stop the Kardashians from getting their mitts on Birkins and diminishing the luxe brands!

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  3. I don't think the company has abided by any of Mlle's precepts in at least 30 years.

    I applauded Gucci's decision to cut back on cheap logo-ed merch some years back. They had come to realize that that stuff ultimately just diluted the value of the brand.

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    1. No, I quite agree with you Fred. Having a look at that 60's suit up close was a revelation. It was the distinctive tweed, but there was nothing else to tell you where it was from. The current suits scream it at you with the buttons and other embellishments. I read a very interesting book about the House of Gucci a while ago, and they spoke about the GG logo, the red and green and cutting it all back. I think it was a good move on their part.

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  4. Love your belt. I've never had any couture. I have had Chanel no. 5 however, and always liked it.

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    1. The perfume is definitely a classic. There was a movie years ago called "Mrs 'Arris Goes to Paris" starring Angela Lansbury where she was a cleaner in London who saved up and bought a Dior couture dress in the 50's. I wouldn't mind a bit of made to measure couture either, but I think it's more a Ready to Wear future ahead of me!

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  5. I think the logo obsession was best mocked/embraced with the Takashi Murakami Louis Vuitton multicolor monogram. It was so loud and iconic and really embraced the spectacle logos have become. I used to be logo OBSESSED but opted to remove them from my wardrobe because--at least for me, they seem to take away or distract from personal style rather than add to it. I now only wear my own monogram. I'm sure some people find this vapid and even silly but I enjoy my wardrobe reflecting me and not the perceived connotations of that logo. Does this make any sense? I've been exceptionally wordy today. Forgive me!
    The fake Chanel quotes drive me insane. I'll have to email you the card I made for my best friend when she graduated law school. I have a photo of Audrey Hepburn with a bastardized Margaret Thatcher quote and give credit to Marilyn Monroe.
    All this being said, I'm still totally enamored by logos when I see them! Can't help it,

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    1. I know exactly what you mean. There used to be those t-shirts back in the early 90's with logos on the front in really big writing - they certainly wore you rather than the other way around, and Polo RL still does that with the giant embroidered ponies that seem to have been on steroids since the 80's and are taking over the shirt.
      Those quotes irritate me so much. Some of them are so inane, and I can't help but think that if people saw them without Coco Chanel written under them they wouldn't find them particularly inspiring at all! I'd love to see that card - sounds hilarious!!

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  6. Hi

    I love this post, but I kind of like the fake door mat!

    The quotes are silly.

    LUFF that last picture. But they'd never let you smoke these days.

    xxxx

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    1. I quite like that first bag in sparkly green I have to admit. You'd be surprised how many of those photos have ciggies in them! It was the 80's/90's although I think French Vogue still does it in their editorial...

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    2. Doody's godmother was a Dior model back in the late 50s/early 60s I think. Sadly she died of lung cancer! All that smoking.
      The Chanel owners must love Karl - he's made them so much money. Poor Coco would probably be rolling. One of the staff in Paris told me that almost all the top brands do what they call the "show off" bags (and other items) for people who want to flaunt giant logos. But they also make much more subtle bags where the logo is very discreet, often for the French themselves - and for those who shudder at the thought.
      As for names - as well as Chanel, there's also Tifffany! At uni was friends with a girl who'd married into a family where all the children had v unusual names. One of the girls was called Fonda (not sure if it was after the film family). Her name was rather a problem on marriage as his name was Ian Hiscock. Pammie xxx PS Still love your belt. It's fun!

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    3. Cigarettes have become the new luxury brand. I was in the shop tonight as someone bought a tiny packet for about $19 ! Move over Chanel....

      I remember in the UK in the late nineties how much Burberry suffered when its check became the uniform of the Chav. Such a hard line for these companies to keep their brand desirable yet not too desirable by the wrong sort. All so hideously snobbish really.

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    4. Here in Oz so many people sport "Burberry" bags, totes, briefcases etc with the well-known check - but I'd say about 80% have been picked up in the markets in Bangkok or China. So cheap and so many opportunities that people get tempted by the fakes.
      Have never been tempted in the least - don't particularly like the design anyway - and hate the idea of counterfeits. Don't think many people are fooled by them - and anyway the wearer would always be conscious that they'd bought something that was fake, so what's the point! But Burberry must be very annoyed by all the fakes as it does tend to reduce the attractiveness of the brand.
      Incredible that people will pay $19 for a small packet of ciggies. That's a real addiction, sadly! Best wishes, Pammie

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    5. This is why I've never liked the logos on things - because you're bound to see someone in an ill fitting polyester dress and plastic flip flops toting the same "designer" bag around.
      Wow to the price of cigarettes! Thank goodness I've never smoked, it would be a very expensive habit to have...

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  7. No...I saved up my babysitting money for a Chanel belt too! Burgundy - now that's 80's! I don't like what Karl has done to the brand, though there are one or two coats that I'd sell a kidney for - I don't suit the boxy jackets, though I like the longer, more fitted ones. I hardly ever carry my Chanel bags but I am going to make a point of getting some wear out of them because they are such a waste otherwise.

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    1. Too funny re the babysitting money. I remember the Burgundy/ Bottle Green colour combos of the 80's! I should probably be thankful I bought my belt in black. Yes, you should absolutely use your bags! They must feel sad they're sitting in your wardrobe.

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  8. It's the evolution of a giant brand... Bless the check out girl but here if you're name was Chanel then you're probably a hooker. I find the brand image is three pronged. The wannabe off shoot nothing to do with the brand.The avant garde designs it does to get publicity but the core collection is something I still love. My mother gave me one her simple tops that is now 35 years old and the edges of the sleeves still snap back to place. My mother has a jacket that can be enlarged one size with the notion most women will gain weight during menopause. The core was made to last and to be worn for at least two generations. It's something to do with inner sewing of the lining. Their pearl accented shoes make me pant. I still look twice at a simply dressed lady with a vintage sautoir. I still love Chanel albeit their ever frequent new odd items just not their cupcakes! Ps that oil drum is the funniest!!!

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    1. Ha! The checkout girl was about 17, and I do seem to remember it was a thing to call your child Chanel or Coco for a while there (not necessarily a good thing, but a thing).
      Those pieces your Mum gave you sound amazing, especially a jacket that grows with your expanding waist line! Genius. Those sound like clothes built for longevity, with thoughtful details rather than for the fa$hion set. I have to admit as much as I loath things like the fugly faux Chanel bedding, I am still rather enamoured with things like the sautoir and have thought long and hard about maybe getting one… have resisted so far, but you never know….

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  9. Hello Heidi,

    You raise so many interesting points here.

    First, it never ceases to amaze us how inventive parents can be with naming their children without considering the consequences that this may bring in adult life. Does one really want to go through life named after every member of a football team or as a reminder of the place of conception? And, is care taken that the first name and surname will fit harmoniously together? We once knew a man called Cliff........fine until put together with his surname......Edge!

    In Hungary names are chosen from a list, all of which are associated with 'name days', hence many people of one's acquaintance have the same name. This means that you have two celebrations a year....birthday and name day. Needless to say, Chanel is not a name to be found on the list. It is definitely a way to prevent 'trendy' first names since which parents are going to deny their child a name day?!

    Secondly, there is much debate to be had about logos, celebrities and, plainly speaking, making money. A luxury 'brand' must, surely deliver quality if nothing else. Otherwise, luxury simply does not come into it at all. Chanel scents us both and has done for decades and Chanel red lipsticks adorn one of us. We have never found their equal. But, the logo less Jean Muir is the only couture brand in the wardrobe. Understated, high quality fabric, cleverly cut and never dates.This is the 'luxury' one feels one is paying for. But as for wiping one's feet on it or eating it...well!

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    1. The thing I like the most about high end designer clothing is the quality of the fabric (which I think you can tell from a distance even), and the cut, and the little details - the way a buttonhole is done, or the turn of the collar or the lining in the pocket. The logo and branding seem to me to often disguise something that is not necessarily of high quality (the tee-shirt that has a giant logo on it for instance) but that will have a high price tag attached.
      As for names… well, there are certainly some interesting names around. I found it very interesting to read recently that there are countries with 'approved' lists of names, and citizens have to apply to have names that do not appear on the master list. We certainly don't have that here, and there's definitely an interesting element to selecting a name where people want their child to have a unique one (although Chanel is not that unique a name for a girl).

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  10. Did you shudder and delete your search history after you found some of those images? Seems appropriate. I'm sure they didn't end up on a Pinterest board anywhere. I struggle with purchases where quality is paramount but the brand is obvious. Luxury is such an overused term. The most interesting people are often strongly individualistic in many ways, even if not sartorially. I love that so many of your posts lead to entertaining self-analysis! 😃😃

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    1. Ha! They're all on Pinterest - but just not on my boards. However, some of them have been pinned so many times. Luxury is a very overused term these days. It's a bit of an empty word. And I always find it interesting how people do try to incorporate luxury into their lives… like naming their baby Chanel!

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  11. Come on you've gotta love the bedding.

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    1. Do you know there were more examples!! But I thought the pink set was probably illustration enough.

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  12. That bedding, so hideous! Eyes are burning!
    Love this post and your belt, amazing that you saved your babysitting money for it. I have a Chanel jacket that I adore, Tabs gave it to me! It is trimmed in fur, very fitted and the buttons have the logo but very hidden, they are a platinum colour. It is such a nice jacket for the tailoring and the silk lining, a treasure because it was a gift from a friend too.
    I also have a Chanel linen skirt with a silk lining, very well made, again the tailoring on it is special, it's an older piece though, bought on ebay.
    The branding thing has become so tacky and obvious and uninteresting. Also the quotes which are likely made up anyway!

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    1. Isn't it awful!! You're so lucky Tabs passed on her Chanel jacket! I do love the classic jackets, but am not sure I'll ever be able to justify the price to buy one… agree with you re the branding. I suppose it drives all the perfume sales to have such obvious branding that is recognisable to the masses?

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  13. As GSL says more elegantly you look amazeballs in that dress with the belt, you can totally carry it off as the rest of your dress is so simple. Could you say you're wearing it ironically?
    I don't have a single thing that's Chanel, I have no where to wear it in Oakland even though we go out to eat a lot, it might make me a target.
    My friend, Sandy wears Chanel sunnies. When we in Mexico, she lost them in the surf. A nearby guy said if she gave him $20 he would find them in the sand first thing in the morning. She gave him the $20, never thought she would see the cash or the sunnies.
    Whatdoyouknow, next morning he turned up to our sun loungers with the glasses in hand and gave them to a glowing "Miss Sandy."
    The power of Chanel believers

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    1. I think I'd be ok with my friends with the belt, but I'm not sure others will get that it's ironic when I'm out in public!
      That's incredible that a guy found the sunnies for $20! Firstly that he did find them, secondly that he actually took the money and then got them for her (rather than running off with the cash).

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  14. Great post. So true about the baby showers and parties... how bizarre. As others have said, I also think that there are several different elements to the brand, or entry levels if you like. Karl going hell for leather on the brand has undoubtedly led to a massive increase in revenue (and profit) from the less expensive parts of the brand (make-up, fragrance, sunglasses and to some extent the leather good). However, if you go into a store and try on a classic suit, you will see that the craftsmanship is still there. My husband offered to buy me a blue/black suit in NYC in 2008 and I said no and have regretted it to this day. Apparently his offer still stands, so one day I will get my mits on one. Unless I feel Karl has irrevocably damaged the brand by then! x

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    1. Apparently a big trend in weddings was to name tables after luxury brands. We just did numbers at ours. How boring of us!?! Agree with you on the cheaper items making up the big $ in profits, and the branding has definitely helped that along. It's a very fine line though. I've never tried on a suit, but might do so now, just to see (because I think my husband would have a heart attack if I actually bought!). I'd definitely take up your husband on that offer if I were you!

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  15. The oil drum is hilarious.
    The fakery, horrific.

    Remember when the Burberry brand was almost killed by the success of its proprietary tartan?
    Fashion, the destroyer...style, the redeemer.

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    1. Isn't it awful! I'd never thought of using an oil drum as a bedside table before either….
      Yes to Burberry - the check is still a bit obvious, and I have a trench with the lining in it that makes me feel a little self conscious. The red and green Gucci straps are also in that category...

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  16. I find Kaiser Karl so amusing - especially when he speaks! And that bedding.....hilarious!! Great post. Cheers from DC,
    Loi
    PS - Love your belt!
    PPS - Thank you for linking my blog. Just found you

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    1. He is quite an amusing guy - last of his generation still designing too I think, all the others have retired now... or died! I've been enjoying your blog Loi, found you through Pinterest and your beautiful kitchen.

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  17. Interesting post Heidi, coincidentally I was updating my makeup box the other day & found I needed new eyeshadow & lipstick which as it so happens is from Chanel. I was actually embarassed to be walking out the store with my little Chanel goodies bag, simply because I find that the logo is over exposed, same with LV, I have a bag I have had for a long time, but hate bringing it out and it isn't even the ubiquitous logo bag.

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    1. I know exactly what you mean… when I was in London a few years ago I bought a pair of Gucci knee high boots. I hadn't thought about how big the box and paper carrier bag were going to be at the time of purchase, and felt ridiculous carrying that enormous Gucci paper bag over my shoulder back to the hotel. I kept knocking into people with it, and got stuck in the revolving doors at the hotel. It was so embarrassing! I felt so ostentatious and ridiculous. But I do love the boots and wear them all winter for the past 3 years, so it was worth it!

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    2. Don't know about Gucci but at Chanel, certainly in rue Cambon Paris anyway, you can ask for a plain white carrier bag - no logo. If you do also want a logo carrier bag, they'll put the logo carrier inside the white bag. Much nicer and more chic to have the plain bag. Also more secure - a logo carrier can attract too much unwanted attention on the street. Pammie

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  18. Yesterday I drove past a building site which had building company's logo plastered all around it. Yes it was the intertwined "C". Caused me to do a double take. If I drive past again, I'll stop and take a photo & email it to you if you like. Coco must be turning over ... A building company??? Den xx

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    1. Oh my goodness - that is the most ridiculous thing… a building company?! Please send me that photo Den! xx

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  19. Late to the party here, but loved reading the post and the comments.
    I try to go for things I like rather than labels.
    The only designer things I want are from Balenciaga.
    The city bag, and the fragrance B by Balenciaga.
    I even like saying Balenciaga. It sounds exotic and luxurious.

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    1. I like saying Balenciaga too. If you go for just the label you'll always be ripped off.. it has to fit and be quality and worth it too!

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  20. I have the wallet on chain and an ancient jumbo bag, both in black. I wear them only with very understated casual clothes and no other labels lest I look like a real housewife. I love the history and hate how it's been co-opted into party themes.

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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