Posted in Couture Sewing, Little Black (French) Jacket

LBJ*: Researching the real deal

*Little Black Jacket sometimes referred to as the LFJ or Little French Jacket

jackets on displaySo my obsession with Chanel and her Little Black (French) Jacket runs deep. If I am going to re-create it, I need to know more about it. So I begin my research by trying to figure out the details of the real deal.

I need to begin my journey with a bit of philosophizing about the importance of this iconic piece of clothing. My research leads me first to blogger Tina Craig’s piece “Secrets of the Chanel Jacket Revealed” where she says quite unequivocally that in her opinion (as the owner of the real deal several times over), “…there is no other piece of clothing that transcends time, style and age as gracefully.”[1] And later, “My CHANEL jackets are my secret weapons, the pull-it-out-and-be-fabulous no matter how much I weigh or feel at the moment kind.” That is precisely the kind of feeling I’m going for. But I need to find out what’s really under the boucle. Next stop, an online retailer specializing in authenticating their luxury resale items.

I stumble upon The RealReal in my search for the facts about an authentic Chanel LBJ. Their video on How to Authenticate Chanel Jackets has proven itself to be particularly useful in helping me to understand what might need to be a part of the inside of the jacket: anyone can reproduce the external look, but it’s the interior hand-finishing and machine quilting that are the key to an authentic Chanel. Just to be clear: I have no intention of trying to pass mine off as the real deal: what I want to do is create one that contains as many of the quality finishes as a Chanel as I can. I want to learn from the artisans who even today work in the Chanel atelier.

 

 

In a very good piece Vintage Chanel Tweed Suit: How to know if it is real or not? the author lists the elements that need to be considered when determining authenticity. Of the elements she includes I believe the following ones are going to be important aspects of my learning process and the eventual outcome of this project:

  • Paneling of the jacket body;
  • Quilting of the interior lining directly to the outside fabric;
  • Silk charmeuse lining; and
  • A chain sewn at the jacket hem.

The label and logo aren’t important to me, although issue of the quality of the buttons might be: I have yet to decide if there will be any button trim on this jacket of mine.

The Vintage Chanel Jacket: What sets it apart on the Vintage Fashion Guide also provides me with further useful information on the elements of the jacket that will be important to me.

  • The pockets (originally four of them) were all real pockets. Mlle. Chanel did not believe in faux pockets it seems.
  • There was almost always contrasting, braided trim of one sort or another.
  • Tweed and boucle are the fabrics of choice. The fabrics are described this way: “…where tweed is an unfinished wool, boucle (which can be wool) is made in such a way that the different strands of yarn are plied at different tensions, creating a textured, sort of nubbly appearance.”[2]

Since I started this journey, I have found out that Chanel originally obtained all of her tweed and boucle from a UK mill called Linton Tweeds. With over 100 years of experience behind them, these fabric experts still produce Chanel-worthy materials. You can visit them at World of Linton Tweeds and even order online. I had a look. Their fabrics are fantastic, but none of the ones available when I looked bowled me over so I’m going to have to find my fabric in the fashion design district of Toronto. I think that will be part of the process – and a lot of fun.

So I now have a better idea about what the real deal is like. My objective is to create a Chanel-type jacket that pays homage to the workmanship and style of the authentic item. Next up: finding my teachers & mentors.

[1] http://www.snobessentials.com/2007/11/secrets_of_the_chanel_jacket_r.html

[2] http://www.vintagefashionguide.com/2014/10/vintage-chanel-jacket-sets-apart/

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