1910, Gabrielle Chanel opened her first hat shop at 21 rue Cambon in Paris. Her simple and elegant wide-brimed hats contrasted with the complicated structures of her competitors. When in 1915 Guillaume Apollinaire dedicated the calligram poem “Reconnais-toi” to Louise de Coligny-Châtillon, it represented the woman he was enamoured with, and who was one of his muses, wearing a wide-brimmed hat. The invention of the calligram is a movement towards abstraction: with the letters of the alphabet, Apollinaire drew the calligram featuring what the outspread words were referring to.

Cette adorable personne c’est toi
Sous le grand chapeau Canotier
La bouche
Voici l’ovale de ta figure
Ton cou exquis
Voici enfin l’imparfaite image de ton buste adoré
Vu comme à travers un nuage
Un peu plus bas c’est ton coeur qui bat”

Culture Chanel exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo until June 5th
13 avenue du Président Wilson, 75016 Paris
Entrance: 2, rue de la Manutention
Opening hours: from 12 noon to 12 midnight every day except Tuesday

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