Coco Chanel, 1962
WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC in collaboration with Chanel Inc. presented a premiere exhibition of sixty two photographs of Mademoiselle Coco Chanel by renowned photographer Douglas Kirkland (b. 1934 Toronto). The exhibition, curated by James Cavello of WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC, represents a documentary of the life and legacy of the visionary designer, whose name and brand represent the height of fashion.
Above: Hong Kong exhibition in the Rotunda of the Stock Exchange
In 1962, at the age of 27, Kirkland received an assignment from Look Magazine to photograph Chanel for a story on the legendary fashion icon. For a period of three weeks, Kirkland shadowed Mademoiselle Chanel capturing her intense schedule and daily routine with models, fitters, clients and friends. The exhibition includes personal images of Coco Chanel in her stunning apartment decorated with Chinese Coromandel screens, where she greeted royalty and celebrities. While documenting Mademoiselle Chanel in the House of Chanel, Paris, Kirkland captured photographs of Madame Pompidou, the wife of the Prime Minister of France who later became President, Lee Radziwill, sister of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Richard Avedon, also photographing the day of the fashion show. Mademoiselle Chanel invited Kirkland on a day trip to Versailles that resulted in only one photograph he took of the 'grande dame' appropriately set in the royal gardens. Coco Chanel revolutionized women's fashion with creations and style, including the 'little black dress', Chanel's signature cardigan jacket, women's casual wear, quilted handbags, short hairstyles, combining authentic and costume jewelry, as well as Chanel No. 5, the world's best selling perfume. Today, at 80 years old, Kirkland remembers with great fondness and admiration the days spent with Coco Chanel. His photographs provide a personal view of this extraordinary individual, the most influential fashion designer of the 20th century. Upon viewing the exhibition in New York, Karl Lagerfeld commented on the artistry and timeless view of Mademoiselle Chanel and thereafter published a book featuring Kirkland's photographs (Mademoiselle, Steidl). The negatives of these photographs have been in the well-known photographer's vault for the past 49 years, and represent a documentation of intimate and public moments of a woman who transformed 20th century fashion.
Douglas Kirkland started his career in 1957 as an apprentice to photographer Irving Penn and was hired by Look Magazine as a photojournalist. For over five decades his career as a photographer has encompassed over one hundred films with an emphasis on CineCitta and American studios, as well as photographs of celebrities and artists, including Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Judy Garland, John Lennon, Roman Polanski, Baz Luhrmann, Nicole Kidman, Angelina Jolie, Mick Jagger, Steven Hawking, Andy Warhol and many other performing artists, directors, writers, authors, photographers and creative individuals. Numerous books have been published on the work of Kirkland, including Coco Chanel, 'Three Weeks' (Glitterati), a pictorial view of his days with Mademoiselle Chanel. Douglas Kirkland's fine art photographs have been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide and represented by Westwood Gallery, New York City.