January 18, 2013
Gabrielle Bonheur ‘Coco’ Chanel
At the age of 17, the future designer, Coco Chanel, was sent to live in an orphanage, where nuns taught her the basic techniques of sewing and helped her land a local job as a seamstress. However, this life was meant for more exciting things than a seamstress, and so the ambitious young girl took off for the town of Moulins to become a cabaret singer. While the experience in Moulins did not open up any singing opportunities, it did set this life story in a new direction. Chanel met Etienne Balsan, a rich, young French man, who soon made her a mistress. Bored with her life as a mistress, it wasn’t long before she would approach Balsan with a business proposition; she wanted to open up a hat and dress shop in Paris. Rich as he was, Balsan gave her the money. In little time, this had become the story of a budding entrepreneur. Chanels little Paris shop was quickly becoming one of the most popular boutiques in all of Paris. Her darker and simpler clothes than were fashionable at the time, the Coco Chanel story began to stand out from the rest. She soon left Balsan and became involved with Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel, a wealthy businessman who financed her expansion, an additional two boutiques were built in Biarritz and Deauville. Capel died in a car accident not long after, but Coco Chanel’s business kept on growing. In fact, in less than four years, she was able to pay back all the startup money she had received, despite the fact that they were given to her as gifts, not loans. In the mid '20s Channel admired Vera Bate Lombardi. Miss Lombardi provided Channel with introductions to many important society and artistic individuals. Coco also based many of her designs on Miss Lombardi's personal style. Chanel is commonly described as being menswear-inspired. It's often thought the look was born in her first shops when she re-designed her lover's, Captain Arthur Edward...
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