The product of exacting standards and a refusal to compromise, the 'Chanel suit' was first made in 1956 by a truly remarkable woman: Gabrielle Chanel (1883–1971).
This piece in wool tweed progressively imposed itself as the uniform of the busy woman of the 1960s. Chic and practical, it had been scrupulously thought through by its creator, whose perfectionism was such that she would tear off and entirely remake a sleeve because of a defect only she could detect. Comprising a jacket, a sleeveless silk surah blouse and a skirt, this suit was dedicated to freedom of movement. Rather than being cumbrously stiffened on the inside, the jacket was simply weighted at the hem with a chain: not hidden in the lining, but gilded and displayed like a trademark. The armholes rise high on the shoulders to facilitate movement, just as the skirt's flat pleat facilitates walking. Logically, the same printed surah is used for the blouse, the lining of the jacket and the skirt, whose pattern aligns neatly with that of the blouse.