Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. She was born to a laundress in 1883, and died with vast wealth, the head of a fashion empire, in 1971. For generations Chanel was knit jersey, the little black dress, and the boxy tweed two-piece suit. In the new millennium, however, with fashion now a subject for scholars, she’s the genius who built the first global fashion brand, her logo of two interlocking Cs emblematic of empire. This exhibition begins with Chanel’s history, offering a chronological look at her life and milestones, and then moves into a more semiotic section that “reads” the brand’s iconography: the two-tone pumps, the quilted bag, the perfume, and so much more. —L.J.