Thursday, March 10, 2011

March Comes in Like a (Chanel) Lion

vintage Chanel pins incorporating Chanel's Leo; the modelling is intentionally irregular, evoking the cast metal brooches of antiquity; photo SwF
Karl Lagerfeld at the end of the Fall/Winter 2010/2011 defile; photo courtesy of

this giant lion was the centre of the Fall/Winter 2010/2011 Chanel fashion show; it was modelled after one in Chanel's apartment; photo courtesy of

this wall relief of the head of a lion in the window of Toronto's Chanel boutique is a perfect specimen; he looks classical, is very symmetrical, and is brave with out being terrifying; I like the way the pupils are drilled and his rather baroque mane, photo SwF
the pin on the left is vintage Chanel, the one on the right is by Miriam Haskell, photo SwF

The month of March is upon us. I noted that the windows of Chanel boutiques have incorporated a large relief of lion's head. Lagerfeld is constantly mining the Chanel vocabulaire, and has used the lion motif before, as did Chanel before him. Chanel's sign was Leo and she was fond of the motif. The stone on her grave in Switzerland features five lion heads, a reference to her zodiac sign and her lucky number.

Many vintage pre-1970 Chanel couture buttons had lion's heads on them rather than a double C logo that is so popular today. Chanel wasn't fond of plastering the logo all over, and when she did, it was inconspicuous enough to be almost invisible. I believe she wanted quality, originality, and beauty to be self-evident. Looking at her superb vintage designs, inevitably it was.

The lion motif is creeping back into recent Chanel collections; a coveted quilted lambskin bag has a bold lion head motif on the closure and there are waiting lists for this $3,000 bag. Current fashion dictates that silver and pewter effects are surpassing Coco Chanel's classic gold, but I think a lion motif can only be in gold, and if a more modern look is desired, a soft or faded gold.

The current Chanel boutique window display appears to be the first time that the lion has been used as a play on themes during the windy month in which spring begins in the northern hemisphere..."In like a lion, out like a lamb."

Here comes Mr. Lion with a great big ROAR!
More cold winter, quick shut that door!
This little lamb thinks it would be nice,
If March was the end of the snow and ice.
Author Unknown (lost in the mists of childhood)


  1. Great story and pics!
    I love the concept of Lion buttons - so regal!

    Thanks for sharing and as always, informing!

  2. A great posting! Wouldn't it be fun to have visited the workshop where that giant lion was fabricated? I didn't know about Chanel's love of lions and that they appeared as buttons on many creations - sort of an alternate logo. What would Chanel think today of the overuse of the C logo? I don't think she'd approve.

    On another note, I love the lion head in the store window. I've always enjoyed that so many Baroque creatures had human features, and those eyes are certainly very human!

  3. As a Taurus, I have decided against the zodiac
    but how I would love the lion buttons - even
    the copy would be regal enough for me. Worth,
    too, was superstitious, perhaps it accommodates
    their special talents. If I find the handbag
    you speak of in Bal Harbour, I'll let you know.