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Most couturiers would be satisfied to have one of their designs reach icon status; Coco Chanel has had several, including her Little Black Dress, handbag with chain strap, and tweed suits, which have been worn by everyone from Jackie Kennedy to Vogue editor Anna Wintour (the latter wore them throughout her pregnancy by unzipping the skirt a touch).
Even as the fashion house has evolved, most notably with the appointment of head designer Karl Lagerfeld in 1983, the tweed suit has remained a staple of the collection, season after season. In its Sept. 1, 1961 issue, LIFE magazine paid tribute to the latest version of the classic: a suit that had “a more crisply tailored figure-fitting shape with small shoulders and narrow set-in sleeves,” compared to the soft-shoulder, boxier version that was introduced the previous season.
As New York Fashion Week continues, TIME looks back at the Chanel suits that made a splash more than 50 years ago.
Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.