All Buttoned Up

New York Fêtes Chanel's Little Black Jacket


Stephen Gan, Linda Evangelista, and Karl Lagerfeld   
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It's easy to love Chanel's little black dress—harder, perhaps, to celebrate it. As Karl Lagerfeld explained last night, "Everybody does the black dress. There's even a perfume from [another] company called Little Black Dress." The collarless tweed garment at the center of Lagerfeld's recent book of photos, The Little Black Jacket, is a bit more proprietary and a bit less ubiquitous—although all the launch parties Karl and co. are doing this year may change that.

Last night's LBJ opening in Soho (the exhibition officially opens Friday) put all 113 portraits from the book on display. The jacket quietly does its thing in each: serving as maternity wear for Charlotte Gainsbourg, helping Claudia Schiffer channel French maid. More portrait subjects were roaming the room than at the book's grand opening in March in Tokyo, among them Linda Evangelista, Alexander Wang, and Frankie Rayder, who revealed that the sweatshirt she's wearing in her shot came off the back of the session's hairstylist, Sam McKnight.

"Before the whole project, I didn't really know Chanel or Karl," explained the French director and actress Maïwenn. "Now, I'm like a drug addict: the perfume, the clothes, the makeup. Chanel, all the time." This new way of seeing things, Maïwenn added, had even inspired her to grab a carnation from the restaurant she'd been at before the party and put it in her hair. It worked for Karl: He stepped free of a tidal crush of fans and well-wishers to snap a few iPhone photos of her.

The jacket leads to many other things, after all. Carine Roitfeld, who styled the portraits with Lagerfeld, said of them, "You forget the jacket, finally. It's just the person that you see." She was wearing a skirt that had been made from one of those jackets, but emphasized that she hadn't taken scissors to any of the half-dozen pieces until the last day of the shoot. "You can play with a Chanel jacket, but it's always about respect." More play followed at the dinner at Balthazar, where Theophilius London performed and Lagerfeld was deep in conversation with tablemate Evangelista.

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