Chanel-Inspired Gilet

While visiting a special exhibition at the Met this summer, I was particularly taken by a gorgeous piece from Chanel, unlike anything I had ever seen. A gilet is a generic term for a sleeveless jacket, or vest. This piece in particular is more of a statement that requires little else in a supporting role. Since I could not remove it from the case, the next best option was to make my own. Read on for how I made my own inspired piece.

Karl Lagerfeld for House of Chanel. Gilet, autumn/winter 2007–8 Métiers d'Art. Gilt metal, enamel, polychrome glass cabochons, clear and black faceted crystals, mother-of-pearl-encrusted stones, black silk velvet.

Karl Lagerfeld for House of Chanel. Gilet, autumn/winter 2007–8 Métiers d’Art. Gilt metal, enamel, polychrome glass cabochons, clear and black faceted crystals, mother-of-pearl-encrusted stones, black silk velvet.

The most important part of the piece, I thought, would be the pendants and charms I could find en masse. I majorly scored when browsing at Jo-Ann Fabrics in their jewelry-making section. They had a TON of vintage-looking options, so I was all set. Once I had gathered all the charms, I laid them out roughly in a sketch for placement on the piece. Also at Jo-Ann, I purchased three yards of black silk velvet ribbon for the halter and side ties.

Chanel-Inspired Gilet | @beesandbubbles

First, I measured and cut my halter piece around my dress form. Next, I sewed two loops into the ribbon which I would be able to run chain through. I secured the ribbon to the dress form with safety pins to keep it from moving while I worked.

Chanel-Inspired Gilet | @beesandbubbles

The Chanel piece is made of charms which are each connected invisibly by chain on the reverse. Since I was limited by charms that were meant for pendants, and no easy way to secure them from behind, I decided to construct a gridwork out of chain and then fasten the charms with wire to the chain. The wire does show, but only minimally.

Chanel-Inspired Gilet | @beesandbubbles

Starting at the top, first covering where the halter meets the chain, I placed charms working my way down the piece, adjusting my original sketch where necessary for balance. Before all of the charms were placed, I sewed two pairs of even lengths of velvet ribbon onto the chain for my side ties. I ended up removing the bottom row of chain once I placed my bodysuit and skirt on the dress form, since I wanted the piece to hit just below my natural waist.

Chanel-Inspired Gilet | @beesandbubbles

The finished gilet!

Chanel-Inspired Gilet | @beesandbubbles

The gilet slips over the head, and is then secured around the back by tying the two sets of ribbon. It’s a heavy piece, but I just love how it turned out.

Chanel-Inspired Gilet | @beesandbubbles

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  1. Diane Johnson says:

    Very elegant and so charming on you!

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