How to Spot a Real Chanel Jacket
It’s 1954, and the striking post-war look of corseted waists and full petticoats is still the silhouette of the moment. A departure from the gravity, rationing and economic constraints of World War II, the New Look radiates an ideal of classic femininity. But the world is still in flux, and the exaggerated proportions and excess lack a feel for the modern. At the age of 71, Coco Chanel emerges onto the scene once more, reopening her fashion house for the first time since the end of the war. And a standout garment — the boxy, menswear-inspired tweed jacket — makes a swift return.
The jacket, with its straight lines and exclusion of stiff interfacing, was fluid and revolutionary, embodying not only freedom of movement but also a freedom of women in general. In 1983, when Karl Lagerfeld took the reigns of the famed atelier, the designer began to experiment with the jacket. Its ever-present spot in the fashion elite’s wardrobe is in no small part due to Lagerfeld’s endeavors.
The versatile jacket has been reinterpreted season after season, and everyone from Jackie O and Princess Diana to Beyonce and Rihanna has donned a version of the classic style staple. But of course, its incredible influence on the course of fashion history has resulted in a proliferation of little fake jackets. To help us uncover what really makes a Chanel jacket genuine, we turned to Graham Wetzbarger, our Chief Authenticator. Read on for his tips on spotting the real deal.
Chanel Jacket Construction
The construction of a Chanel jacket is specifically tailored to enable effortless movement, and should be immaculate from top to bottom. “The jacket’s sleeves are constructed of two pieces of fabric, allowing them to follow the natural resting position of your arms,” says Wetzbarger. “When examining the lining, check that every exterior seam has a matching seam in the lining.” In most cases there should be a pleat at center back for flexibility, as well as a pleat about a third of an inch long along the bottom hem line for mobility.
Chanel Jacket Materials
Though Chanel jackets are now created in a range of luxe and novelty fabrics, the brand’s customary tweed is a bouclé wool with recognizable looped curls. “Tweed was invented in Scotland and worn by the aristocracy, and Coco Chanel was introduced to the fabric through the Duke of Westminster, her beau at the time,” says Wetzbarger. “The house of Chanel still sources some of their tweeds from Scotland, but they also commission Maison Lesage, a subsidiary company focusing on embroidery, to craft tweeds for them.”
Special tweeds will feature trims and embellishments including chain links, feathers, velvet and other intricate materials. Braided trim accents are often created by deconstructing yardage of the tweed and then plaiting the individual strands of yarn into a braid. Chanel jackets should always be lined in silk charmeuse with a jacquard design, most commonly the signature camellia flower motif.
Chanel Jacket Hardware
The iconic round brass buttons on a Chanel jacket should be heavy and securely attached. The design house creates new buttons to align with every collection’s theme. The Paris-Dallas collection feature sheriff’s badges, while the Paris-Cuba collection feature bottle caps.
“Chanel may incorporate poured glass, wood, fabric or enamel into the design, and most but not all will have a CC on them or say CHANEL on the back,” says Wetzbarger. “And don’t forget the words of Mademoiselle Coco herself… ‘Never a button without a buttonhole.’”
At the jacket’s interior hem should rest a thin chain, intended to weigh the jacket down and help it hang properly upon the body. The chain is attached by hand, so it should be securely fastened to the garment. “Long coats and cropped versions of the jacket likely won’t have this feature,” notes Wetzbarger.
Chanel Jacket Brand Identifiers
The interior label at the garment’s neck should feature the style number, size and year it was created. “04C, for example, indicates the jacket is from the 2004 Cruise collection,” says Wetzbarger. “P represents printemps, or spring, and A indicates autumn.” There have been many changes to the Chanel label over the years, so it’s important to know what era your jacket is from to make sure it matches.
Regardless of the fabrication year, the label should be centered and should read CHANEL across the middle, with the CC logo below. Dashed lines will also run vertically on either side of the label, mimicking vintage labels where a contrasting thread was used to sew the tag into place. “In 2010, Chanel stopped listing its season and year,” says Wetzbarger. “So keeping the original tags is very important.” A label at the jacket’s side seam will also inform you of the fiber content, which you can cross-reference with the actual material of the garment.
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Please note: Brand standards, logos and other identifying features may have changed since the time of publication.