Presenting With Elegance: Lessons From The Irreverent Coco Chanel

Here’s a video of Coco Chanel’s first television interview. It’s in French, watch it even if you don’t understand French. Coco Chanel ‘s body language is eloquent…


Incroyable, non?

I’m going to first analyze Coco Chanel’s communication style, then translate her key messages from French into English and eventually share some key learning points for us, now.

So, how does Coco Chanel express herself in such a formal context?

She’s incredibly original, irreverent and free to be herself.

Context

Remember, it was the early 60s, the beginnings of the television in France. People interviewed were more static, contained, conventional, almost severe…(take a look at General de Gaulle at the ORTF and you’ll see what I mean!)

ORIGINAL

  • She’s standing, when most people sit down and stay put during interviews
  • She’s moving all the time! Her arms, her head, her whole body, completely at ease in her impeccable tailleur…

IRREVERENT

  • She starts her talk by saying NO!
  • She’s smoking and she keeps one hand in her pocket, contrasting with the
    classical feminine silhouette
  • She’s even scratching her back, like a 12 year old school girl!

FreeSimply Free!

  • She’s improvising as she’s talking
  • She’s bold and natural, sometimes soft and polite, other times interrupting and irreverent
  • She’s 100% herself : Coco!

What does she say about elegance?

“Elegance is to allow women to move with ease. To prevent them from feeling dressed up, to prevent them from changing attitudes and styles depending on the dress in which one has put them! It’s very difficult. I think it’s the gift I have, if we can call it a gift, and I think I have got it.

The human body moves all the time, even when we do not want him to move.You see, I wish I could stop moving and speak calmly. That is very difficult for me. I am moving all the time. If I had a costume which bothered me, I wouldn’t be moving at all. I would be afraid it might change place.

Well, I don’t care! My suit can move, not move, I don’t care at all, it can do whatever it likes.

It holds itself!”

What a beautiful metaphor of a well designed and structured presentation,(the tailored suit) which you then can deliver simply, figure-hugging your own style!

“Les femmes sont toujours trop
habillées mais jamais assez élégantes!”

“Women are always too much dressed and never elegant enough!”

I love it when she says: “Oh my god, this is such a difficult question! You’re asking me questions that are far too difficult! ” Then, she scratches her back, casually, completely at ease in her body. Wow!

What’s in it for you?

  • Dare To Be Different from Others-Be Yourself- Be Unique

“in order to be irreplaceable one must always be
different. People laughed at the way I dressed, but that
was the secret of my success: I didn’t look like anyone.”

  • Be Bold

“In fashion, you know you have succeeded when there is an
element of upset.”

  • Use Your Intuition and Experiences

“Fashion is not simply a matter of clothes,” said
Chanel.
“Fashion is in the air, born upon the wind. One intuits it. It is in the sky and on the road.”

  • Keep it Short and Simple

“I get rid of everything I can, every thing that is not useful. Until I reach  simplicity…”

  • Leave a Strong Impression

“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress,” said
Chanel.
“Dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”


Tip: Present  with elegance and they will remember your message, not your slides.

Exercise: Find in your memory, an experience when you felt you were daring, you were free to be yourself, unique and completely aligned with your values.

You were “elegant”.

Share with us these moments of “elegance” in your comments, I’m sure you have plenty of them which could be inspiring for others. Give us your thoughts!

3 thoughts

  1. Re: TypePad: [Geronimo Leadership Coaching ] Dorothy Dalton submitted a comment on "Presenting With Elegance: Lessons From The Irreverent Coco Chanel"
    Thanks, Dorothy. C’est ça, l’élégance!
    Classique intemporel!
    Like Cicero and rhetorics!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s