The many faces of Chanel's black jacket

An exhibition celebrating Chanel's iconic black tweed jacket has made its way to Singapore.

From now till Jan 1, visitors can walk through a gallery in the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands that features all 129 images from the 2012 book, The Little Black Jacket: Chanel's Classic Revisited, by Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld.

Lagerfeld, 80, creative director of the luxury French fashion house, shot 129 people - mostly celebrities, designers, models and magazine editors - wearing the black tweed jacket. They were each styled differently by Roitfeld, 59, former editor of French Vogue and now global fashion director of Harper's Bazaar magazine, to show the versatility of the jacket.

For example, German supermodel Claudia Schiffer wears it with an apron around her waist, while South Korean actress Song Hye Kyo embellishes hers with brooches. American singer Kanye West demonstrates how men can also carry off the women's jacket, wearing it over jeans and T-shirt.

Other celebrities featured in the book include American actresses Sarah Jessica Parker and Milla Jovovich, Chinese actress Zhou Xun and British singer Rita Ora.

Models Karolina Kurkova, French actress Alma Jodorowsky and Korean-American model Park Soo Joo, who were also photographed for the book, were in town for the official launch of the exhibition at the ArtScience Museum last night.

The jacket was conceived in 1916 by Chanel's founder, Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, after she took a liking to a jacket worn by men operating the lifts at a hotel in Austria.

At that time, she was already known for revolutionising women's fashion by designing clothes with menswear aesthetic. For example, she fashioned designs from jersey, a material that was used only in men's undergarments then.

Besides the jacket, she is also known for creating other designs that have since become wardrobe staples, such as the little black dress and quilted handbags with shoulder straps that would free women's hands.

In a press statement, Lagerfeld said: "The Chanel jacket is a men's jacket that has become a recognised piece of women's clothing. It has crossed that line and come to symbolise a timelessly fashionable form of nonchalant feminine elegance."

He added: "It's the equivalent of jeans or a white shirt. It really is the piece that goes with everything, suits everyone and is appropriate at anytime."

Since the book launched in September last year, the exhibition has travelled to 15 cities, including London, Milan, Paris, Shanghai and Taipei.

Singapore is the 16th and final stop of the showcase, which has drawn more than 300,000 visitors in just the five cities mentioned above.

Describing the exhibition as "a huge success", Mr Bruno Pavlovsky, global fashion president of Chanel, tells Life! in an e-mail interview: "We hope this project will intrigue and excite the public in Singpaore as much as it did in the other cities. People in Singapore love fashion; it will surely be interesting to have it here."

A Chanel jacket, which starts from $8,000, does not come cheap, but admission to The Little Black Jacket exhibition is free.

staceyc@sph.com.sg For more information go to www.thelittleblackjacket.chanel.com