“My guy pretty like a girl/And he got fight stories to tell/I see both sides like Chanel/See on both sides like Chanel.” In his opening lines to the song “Chanel”, Frank Ocean references the iconic logo for the very successful fashion house. The ground-breaking nature of the symbols associated with the grand and lavish Chanel world are what set the label apart from other high-end fashion brands and are chiefly the result of the calculated hard-work of the former Creative Director of Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld. Lagerfeld was a creative genius who stuck to the core values of the brand at all times and was therefore able to market Chanel as the total embodiment of authentically specific lifestyle ideals.
There was a time in American history when Chanel #5 was synonymous with glamorous sex appeal. Marilyn Monroe famously name-dropped the perfume when she stated in an interview that she slept in the nude. Following suit, Megan thee Stallion referenced the fashion label in the “Houston Cypher” on YouTube. “If he asks for my number, it’s Chanel #9,” Megan raps in the video.
The Chanel fashion house has a fashion language that is extremely expressive. According to psycho-social principles like symbolic interactionism, material items have inherent meaning attached to them because of the abstract concepts that they represent. Lagerfield defined the indisputable symbols of the Chanel brand with his consistency of marketing. He did this with label-specific staple pieces, which he amplified and made more interesting to the public; the genius of legendary fashion designer, Gabrielle “CoCo” Chanel, was in her precision as a designer. Raised partly in a convent, she was a visionary who created the sleek-silhouette for women striving for change following World War I in Europe. As a designer, Gabrielle Chanel embraced feminine masculinity and re-defined what it meant to be a woman by using color choices and disregarding corsets.
The androgynous spirit Gabrielle Chanel inspired women for generations to admire is depicted in Frank Ocean’s song. Women were encouraged to explore the boundaries of their gender through revolutionary designers like Chanel, and now male artists like Ocean can begin to deconstruct the aesthetics of his gender. It makes sense then, that so many rappers have referenced Chanel. Both the powerful fashion house and hip-hop seem to have a shared philosophy regarding the pursuit of idealism and how important it is for these artistic ideals to be grounded in the structure required for everyday functionality.
As Creative Director, Lagerfield always remained true to the origin story of Chanel, and the lifestyle that Chanel is advertising is easy to aspire to because it has been clearly defined. That authenticity no doubt contributed to the label’s financial success. It is what sets it apart from other luxury brands, which also offer social prestige in exchange for lifestyle-related content and media.
This content was originally published here.