Chanel's 'little black jacket' stands the test of time

After stops in many major international cities, Chanel's 'LBJ' exhibition featuring photos of the iconic item by Karl Lagerfeld stops in Dubai.

Sarah Jessica Parker in a variation of Chanel's little black jacket. Courtesy Fashion Forward
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The spirit of the highly recognisable 'little black jacket' has been captured in a series of new photographs by Karl Lagerfeld. Here is your essential guide to this unique exhibition

Dressed to impress

Some designer pieces become instant classics and Chanel's little black jacket (LBJ) is one of them. Created by Coco Chanel in the 1950s, the piece has endured and evolved through the decades, been reinvented, tailored, cropped, embellished and made available in myriad colours along the way.

The garment was inspired by Austrian jackets for men and teamed with a matching suit skirt that fell just below the knee. In contrast to the tight, restrictive styles of the day, Chanel designed her jacket to be structured yet supple, with sleeves cut on the straight grain and no shoulder pads or stiffening.

Since he became Chanel's creative director in 1983, Karl Lagerfeld has perpetuated the legendary tweed coat's success each season. So who better to put together a photographic show about the item?

With styling by the fashion editor Carine Roitfeld, Lagerfeld turned his lens on countless celebrities and models wearing the LBJ for the collection of images.

Coffee table collectable

If you love Chanel, you must see this homage to one of its best sellers. Admission to the Dubai exhibition is free. You can also buy a glossy tome of more than 100 of Lagerfeld's photographs from the collection from selected stores across the UAE for Dh375.

Launched last year, The Little Black Jacket book features stars including Sarah Jessica Parker, Uma Thurman, Vanessa Paradis and Georgia May Jagger. Each wears the design in a different way, whether it has been buttoned up or made sleeveless.

Since the book's launch, more lucky ladies have been captured by Lagerfeld, including the French beauty Carole Bouquet, the South Korean model Soo Joo Park and the Swedish actress Alicia Vikander.

Stylish sound bites

Before you head to the exhibition, it's worth paying a visit to the website ( for behind-the-scenes footage of the photo shoots and comments from many of the famous faces featured.

One such actress is Keira Knightley, who has long been associated with Chanel's advertising campaigns and owns her very own LBJ.

"It's beautiful and I use it all the time," she says. "[I wear it] in every way - when I'm going on a very dressed-up night out or with jeans and a T-shirt."

The German actress and former model Diane Kruger says in French: "For me, along with the Chanel black bag, it's the most iconic item of the maison of Chanel, I think."

Cinematic cities

Keep browsing around the site and you'll also come across a cool teaser video about the Dubai leg of the exhibition, previewing some of the photos interspersed with shots of the city's skyline.

Reflecting the brand's popularity in the Middle East, Dubai follows an 11-city tour that includes stops in London, Tokyo, New York, Paris and Moscow.

The portal is also home to captivating footage from inside a Chanel atelier. It shows craftswomen and seamstresses fashioning a jacket from scratch with nimble fingers and fast-paced precision.

From intricate pattern cutting and seam stitching to the garment's steaming and final fitting on the model, it brings home why Chanel's staple piece has stood the test of time.

The Little Black Jacket: Chanel's Classic Revisited by Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeldis on show at The Venue, Downtown Dubai, Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, from Saturday through May 11. Opening times are 11am-9pm weekdays and 11am-10pm on weekends. For more information go to

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