As companies go Chanel is a contradiction when looked at as a premium fashion range but somehow carries itself with the kind of grace and dignity that has seen it go from the original Coco visage of practical clothing in luxury fabrics to a powerhouse brand with perfume, cosmetics both male and female, clothes and a logo that has become synonymous with luxury.
Considered by some to be the innovator of the capsule wardrobe capsule concept, a very Parisian chic way to dress, she was a controversial woman in her own right with ties to some dubious characters during her life but has none the less, created a legacy brand that has lasted 110 years.
Starting with the perfume line which was the detail that put them on the map its most notorious client was of course, Marylin Monroe who when asked what she wore to bed, famously replied, “I only wear Chanel No. 5.” The quote originates from a retelling by Monroe to Life Magazine in April 1952.
Over the course of its life, Chanel as a brand has stayed true to its roots and have what many call the staples of a good wardrobe for: the little black dress, the two-piece suit and of course the quilted handbag.
Worthy of mention at this juncture is tanning as a status symbol, Chanel, ever the innovator, was said to be the one who took the tan (like the classic and practical fisherman’s jumper) and gave it a new life, by laying in the sun and bronzing her skin she took the previous notion of light skin is a sign of leisurely life and turned it on its head by merely enjoying the beautiful weather and getting a tan she started (for better or worse) the trend of tanning as a leisure pursuit.
This does not mean that men were left out of the equation, far from it, the aftershave collection and of course the newer men’s cosmetics range have become an integral part of the Chanel brand with their own signature across the two areas of the business: the Bleu collection.
Marketed as only Chanel can, they are considered timeless and go for classic wood and darker more spicy tones and a clean blue packaging that sits across the board from the aftershave to the skincare.
However, it is the cosmetics that catch the eye. Defined as being for rule breakers the packaging is superlatively masculine in its matt black package with the crossed C’s logo, simple, clean and classically Chanel. It is about discretion and grooming rather than drama.
It is all about simple steps with cleanser followed by moisturizer, a lip balm (just in case you need it), foundation with a lightweight finish and a brow pencil. Simple, quick and to the point much the same as the other elements of the Chanel brand, the men’s makeup collection along with the aftershave has a very honest appeal. Aimed through marketing at least, at a younger market who in the roaring 2020’s is more conscious of his look, it does offer the same across the board marketability of life in the HD age with mobile phones and cameras on us pretty much all through our working day, you can be polished and ready with a brand that stands for practical luxury.
For the women’s cosmetics, they again in much the same way as the men, offer a clean simple collection tied to the varied shows throughout the year and in what could be seen as a savvy move on their part, they have the video channel on YouTube, that shows backstage the looks as they are applied for the season followed with a smart retelling and more approachable how to for home, taking the somewhat tame by fashion show standards, looks and making them more “consumer friendly” and approachable using the same makeup from the shows.
Chanel overall as a cosmetics brand is the kind of company that speaks softly and offers a chic, utilitarian almost capsule approach to cosmetics that is both refreshing and in line with the origins of the brand.
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By James Clark