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August 31 2014

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Face Time With Coco Chanel

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Marion Pike and Coco Chanel leaning on the artist's portrait of the designer

On September 5, the London College of Fashion’s Fashion Space Gallery will unveil a new exhibition dedicated to Mademoiselle Coco Chanel. Curated by LCF professor Amy de la Haye, the show will feature portraits of the designer by the late California artist Marion Pike.

According to the painter’s obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle, Chanel allegedly “refused” to sit for portraits by such luminaries as Pablo Picasso but willingly obliged for her friend Pike. The five canvases on display depict both Chanel’s impeccable taste and tacit intelligence—there’s a sharpness in those eyes, even though the designer first posed for Pike at the age of 84. Chanel also invited Pike to spend seven months observing her work in Paris. Afterward, the artist told the Los Angeles Times, “The atmosphere was frayed nerves, excitement, enthusiasm, frustration, gloom, and energy. It was watching the creation of art in its purest sense.” In her career, Pike also painted Ronald Reagan (that piece made the cover of Time in 1966) and Pope John Paul II.

A number of Chanel-designed couture pieces will complement the expo, courtesy of Pike’s daughter, Jeffie Pike Durham. The show will run until November 16.

Fashion Space Gallery is located at 20 John Princes Street in London.

Photo: Courtesy of Fashion Space Gallery

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Dept. of Culture