Fashion Is Architecture: It Is a Matter of Proportions

Coco Chanel? Marcel Haedrich? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Did the famous fashion designer and style arbiter Coco Chanel say that “fashion Is architecture”? Would you please help me to find a citation showing the context?

Quote Investigator: Coco Chanel died in 1971, and in that same year Marcel Haedrich authored a biography in French titled “Coco Chanel Secrète”. The following year Haedrich’s work was translated by Charles Lam Markmann and published under the title “Coco Chanel: Her Life, Her Secrets”. A section called “She Said” printed a collection of remarks from Chanel including the following adage. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

The original French version of the statement appeared within “Coco Chanel Secrète”: 2

La mode c’est de l’architecture, c’est une question de proportions.

In 1972 the English language edition of “Vogue” magazine published a piece under Haedrich’s byline titled “Chanel: What She Knew That You Should Know Now About Life, Love ,Taste, Fashion”. The quotation was included. 3 Thus, Chanel’s comment achieved further circulation.

In 1991 the “Bloomsbury Dictionary of Quotations” included the following entry: 4

Chanel, Coco (1883-1971) French dress designer.

Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions.
Coco Chanel, Her Life, Her Secrets (Marcel Haedrich)

In conclusion Coco Chanel deserves credit for this quotation based on the testimony of her biographer Marcel Haedrich.

Image Notes: Illustration from “Les Élégances parisiennes” with publication date Juillet 1916. Image accessed via gallica.bnf.fr. Caption says: COSTUMES DE JERSEY: Modèles de Gabrielle Channel. (The correct spelling is Chanel). Image has been cropped and resized.

Notes:

  1. 1972, Coco Chanel: Her Life, Her Secrets by Marcel Haedrich, Translated from French to English by Charles Lam Markmann, Chapter 21: Coco at Work, Section: She Said, Quote Page 252, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, Massachusetts. (Verified on paper)
  2. 1971, Coco Chanel Secrète by Marcel Haedrich, Chapter 21: Coco au travail, Section: Elle disait, Quote Page 305, Éditions Robert Laffont, Paris. (Verified with scans)
  3. 1972 May 1, Vogue, Volume 159, Issue 9, Features: Chanel: What She Knew That You Should Know Now About Life, Love ,Taste, Fashion by Marcel Haedrich, Start Page 164, Quote Page 165, Column 2, The Condé Nast Publications Inc., New York. (ProQuest)
  4. 1991, Bloomsbury Dictionary of Quotations, Edited by John Daintith et al, Entry: Coco Chanel, Quote Page 97, Bloomsbury Publishing Limited, London. (Verified with scans)