Coco Chanel said, “The most courageous thing is to think for yourself.”
Sounds easy doesn’t it? But we all know how difficult that can be, especially in today’s world if different words, ideas, or beliefs run counter to mainstream media and popular paradigms.
That’s why Coco prefaced her statement with the word ‘courage’. Thankfully, we have history to show us the value and critical importance of welcoming new ideas and divergent thinking for promoting discussion and prompting progress. Progress is usually synonymous with “new” but progress also happens when we move across disciplines and reframe something old or seemingly unrelated in a new light.
Today’s trading card is a wonderful example of this progressive thinking. It’s interesting because it marries Coco’s iconic fashion with the art of the novel. Bringing the two together seemed like an ideal fit on a day that celebrates National Book Lovers Day.
Writing is obviously a form of art and we know books can also be used as a larger platform for expanding other forms of art; think books about art and books written by artists.
This was the premise for what Spanish artist David Maroto and Joanna Zielińska, the director of the Cricoteka in Kraków, did in 2013 as an interesting exhibit in Poland.
Their curated exhibit examined the role of literature in influencing art but it did something innovative. It looked at the notion that literature, in itself, could be its own force in the visual arts arena.
This is certainly true when you consider the host of creative book covers that clamor for attention online or grouped in sections of a library or bookstore.
New digital graphics have re-framed the art of the book cover. Perhaps readers using electronic book devices spend less time looking at book covers, but in general the art of the book has expanded to include more creative covers that speak to the artfully crafted stories inside, that are certainly worthy of their own praise as artistic forms.
Books have taken a new place in the narrative of art, moving beyond artful coffee-table books showcasing any number of art mediums from painting to ceramics. Their power as vehicles of change in the world of ideas and progress has as much in common as what Coco Chanel did for the world of fashion with her iconic Chanel brand.
As an iconic fashion designer and businesswoman, Coco’s platform in all of her design work is reflected in a signature monogram of two interlocking Cs (her name). This art form drew people to what it said about her fashion and about her as a woman in the same way that books and their covers present us an artful way to interpret and explore the work that lies inside them.
Books will never go out of fashion. They will continue to mirror the philosophical underpinnings of Coco’s brand: revering the timeless confidence of any art form that is free from encumbrances (like corsets and popular fashion trends that Coco ignored as a designer) and respecting the pursuit of truth that needs little in the way of adornment.