Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A little history of Coco...

I thought I'd offer a little bio of Gabrielle Chanel.  Whether you admire her or not, she was hugely influencial in the fashion industry.  
Chanel was born in 1883 in the small town of Saumur. 
At age 12 she was put into an orphanage run by nuns, it was here that she learned to sew, and at age 18 she left the orphanage and took up work for a local tailor. 
She later turned to millinery, and this led to her opening a hat shop financed by her boyfriend Arthur Capel.   In 1914 she opened a dress shop on Rue Cambon, which closed during the First World War.  Reopening as a couture salon in 1919, Chanel quickly became one of the top designers.
She designed clothing for comfort, simplicity and chic appearance with an innovative combination of jersey material and shapes borrowed from men’s clothing.  After her jersey dress caused a sensation, she designed cardigans, yachting pants and beach pyjamas.
In the early 1920’s Chanel established black as a fashionable colour and made the little black dress an indispensable part of any wardrobe.  Chanel introduced one fashion idea after another.  She teamed tweed skirts and sweaters with strings of pearls and transformed the pea jacket and raincoats into fashionable attire.  Another of her contributions to fashion was the idea that fashionable costume jewellery could represent real wealth as surely as jewels. 
Chanel embodied the Garconne style with that of an independent woman who was ready to pursue her own active life.
In 1939, at the beginning of the Second World War, Chanel closed her shops and took up residence at the Hotel Ritz.  In 1945 she moved to Switzerland, eventually returning to Paris in 1954, the year she returned to the fashion world.  Her new collection was not hugely successful in Paris, but it was well received by the Americans, who were to become her most loyal customers.
Chanel died on 10th January 1971 in her private suite at the Hotel Ritz, Paris.

 Since 1983, Chanel has been designed by Karl Lagerfeld.
The building where her apartment is in Paris was bought by Chanel in 1920, and still houses the ground-floor shop, the haute couture workrooms in the attic (where 100 seamstresses still work entirely by hand), and what is now Karl Lagerfeld's study. 

In 2009 a biopic film based on her life titled 'Coco before Chanel' was released. Audrey Tatou was given the lead-role and follows as she goes from orphan to Haute Couture designer.

Audrey Tatou

To this day, Coco Chanel's style aesthetic is still evident.  Let's face it, most of us own probably more than one "little black dress" and how easy is it to spot the classic "tweed suit"?

Chanel CC


  1. I like this post so much..Im looking forward to see new ones..


  2. Great post! It's amazing how much impact one woman had on fashion.
    xx Allie

  3. i love her!!! one of my inspiration<3


  4. Thanks guys, I love my fashion history, glad you enjoyed the post!
    Ayshea xx