Biography and Impact: Coco Chanel
Coco Chanel is one of the most recognized names in fashion. Founder of Chanel, she revolutionized the way women dress and gave them freedom of self-expression. Though she was first and foremost a fashion designer, she was also involved with much business and political affairs. She was very independent and confident in herself, which was a new and liberating feeling to women of her era.
Born Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, in Saumur, France, on August 19th, 1883, Coco came from very humble beginnings. Her mother died when she was 12 years old and her father who was a peddler, was forced to put Coco and her siblings in an orphanage in which she stayed until she was 18. In the orphanage is where the nuns who raised her taught her how to sew, which is a trade that would lead to her life’s work. She got the name “Coco” when she worked briefly as a singer at various clubs in France. An article on Bio.com states that “Chanel herself said that it was a ‘shortened version of cocotte, the French word for kept woman’.” Though she never wed s she had several romantic affairs with wealthy and upper class men who helped her fashion career blossom and gave her the resources to open up a boutique in Paris in 1910. The first thing that she began designing were hats which gained popularity when an actress began modeling them. She also opened shops in Deauville and Biarritz and then began designing women’s clothing. Her next big venture was lending her name to a fragrance called Chanel No. 5. In the 1930’s, the outbreak of World War II caused her to close her businesses. During the German occupation of France, her reputation was also hurt because of her involvement with a German military officer. After the war, she was questioned, but not charged as a collaborator. Some think that it was her friend Winston Churchill who protected her from being charged. Some of the public in France thought that Chanel had...
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