Brief Background: Coco Chanel was born in a workhouse in the Loire Valley where her mother used to work, she was born in 1883 and her real name is Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, however she later claimed that her date of birth was 1893 which made her ten years younger. Her mother passed away when she was six years old, leaving five children behind her husband, whom he farmed out to various relatives. The young Chanel was sent to an orphanage of the Catholic Monastery of Aubazine where she learned sewing. At the age of 18 she left the orphanage and started to work for a local tailor.
The first World War led her move to the resort town of Deauvile, where she had connections with rich military officer and then with a wealthy English Industrialist, through these beneficial connections, she was able to open her own shop in Paris in 1910 later she opened boutiques.
“Coco” Chanel The Designer: in the year 1920 she became the first designer to create loose garments for women and she used fabrics that were traditionally used for men clothing for e.g. jersey which was used for men’s undergarment out of that she created a relaxed style for women instead of the body hugging corseted look of the time. Her clothes became popular with clients for whom the corsets were old fashioned, everybody appreciated the change in fashion.
Chanel became a style icon herself with her striking bob haircut, pearls, and her classic look. She was an icon for modern women of the time.
By the 1920s, Maison Chanel was established at 31, rue Cambon in Paris (which remains its headquarters to this day) and become a fashion force to be reckoned with.
During 1922, she launched her perfume Chanel No.5 for femme, which remains popular even to this date and will sure remain popular in the future centuries. In 1924 Pierre Wertheimer became her business partner taking on 70% of the fragrance business; he was reputedly her lover. The Wertheimer continues to control the perfume company today.
For the period in 1925, Chanel launched her signature cardigan jacket, and the following year matched its success with the little black dress. Both items are still a staple part of every Chanel collection.
In 1954 she took on Christian Dior’s overtly feminine New Look. Furthermore Coco Chanel made other fashion statements, such as women could have their hair short. Her themes were always based on comfort that also allowed the modern career women to work, live, and look good doing so. One of her most famous creations in the 1950s was dubbed the Chanel Suite, which was a collarless jacket with a matching skirt. It caught on worldwide. Coco also stepped
into the bell-bottom boom with trousers and coined the look of jewelry with sportswear. Through the last decades of her life, Chanel was always working on new lines that spoke to the freed woman, when she expanded her signature style by introducing pea jackets and bell bottoms for women. Her new collection became a hit in the US and was criticized by the European press. That time famous Hollywood stars like Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly fell in love with her stylish boxy cardigan suits.
Coco Chanel also designed costumes for the stage including Cocteau’s 'Antigone' (1923) and 'Oedipus Rex' (1937) and cinematic works such as 'La Regle de Jeu'.
Coco Chanel worked until her death in 1971 at the age of 88, spending her last moments with style and grace.
Today Karl Lagerfeld is the chief designer of Chanel's fashion house. His ability to continuously mine the Chanel archive for inspiration testifies to the importance of Coco Chanel's contribution to the world of fashion.
Coco Chanel Fashion Highlights: Chanel was famous for making practical clothes, including pants for women, little black dresses, and box-like collarless jackets with bias edging and brass buttons. Her first fabrics included wool jersey, which was comfortable and easy fitting, but was not considered suitable for...