Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel. 10 Facts About The Famous Designer

Gabriel Coco Chanel was an exceptional fashion designer and businesswoman who created the High-Fashion French House “Chanel”.

You can describe her with the words: Liberate, Free, Instinctive, Visionary, Patron, Reader, Pygmalion, Lover of the Arts, Avant-Garde, and Lucky.

The average reading time is 6 minutes.

History and significant moments of Coco Chanel

Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel was a French fashion designer and businesswoman who was a leading figure in the fashion industry from the 1920s to the 1950s. She is best known for popularizing the “little black dress” and the Chanel suit, as well as creating the iconic perfume, Chanel No. 5.

Chanel No.5 eau de parfum
Chanel No.5 eau de parfum

Chanel was born in Saumur, France in 1883 to Albert Chanel and Jeanne Devolle. Her father was a street vendor and her mother was a laundress. When Chanel was 12 years old, her mother died and her father placed her in an orphanage. It was there that she learned to sew, which would later become a valuable skill in her career as a fashion designer.

Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance

Coco Chanel
Gabrielle Chanel designed the little black dress in 1926
Gabrielle Chanel designed the little black dress in 1926

After leaving the orphanage, Coco Chanel worked as a seamstress and singer in a café in Moulins. It was there that she met Etienne Balsan, a wealthy textile heir, who would become her lifelong lover and financial supporter. With Balsan’s help, Chanel opened her first shop, a hat shop called “Chanel Modes,” in 1910.

Gabrielle Chanel in front of her boutique in 1913 © Collection Deauvilloise
Gabrielle Chanel in front of her boutique in 1913 © Collection Deauvilloise

In 1913, Coco Chanel opened a shop in Deauville, a popular seaside resort, where she sold clothing and accessories to wealthy tourists. It was here that she began to develop her signature style, which was characterized by clean lines, simple designs, and comfortable, functional clothing.

Caricature of Coco Chanel
Caricature of Coco Chanel

In 1914, Chanel opened a shop in Paris called “Chanel Modes de Paris,” which quickly became popular among the city’s fashionable elite. She was known for using jersey fabric, which was typically used for men’s underwear, in her clothing designs, giving them a more comfortable and relaxed fit.

Caricature of Coco Chanel dancing with Boy Capel
Caricature of Coco Chanel dancing with Boy Capel

During World War I, Chanel closed her shop and opened a retreat in Switzerland, where she spent the war years with Balsan. It was during this time that she developed a close relationship with the composer Igor Stravinsky, who would later become a major influence on her work.

Winston Churchill and Coco Chanel in the '20s
Winston Churchill and Coco Chanel in the ’20s

In the 1920s, Coco Chanel returned to Paris and opened a new shop called “Chanel Modes,” which became known for its innovative and stylish clothing. She introduced the “little black dress,” which became a staple of women’s wardrobes, and the Chanel suit, which featured a knee-length skirt and a boxy jacket.

Coco Chanel with Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich oF Russia
Coco Chanel with Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich oF Russia

Chanel was also a pioneer in the use of artificial materials, such as jersey and jersey-like materials, in her clothing designs. She believed that these materials were more practical and comfortable than traditional fabrics like silk and wool, and they quickly became popular among women who wanted clothes that were both stylish and functional.

The first collections of powders and lipsticks were created in 1924
The first collections of powders and lipsticks were created in 1924
This is a lighter version of N°5, which was introduced in 1922 by Coco Chanel and Ernest Beaux.
This is a lighter version of N°5, which was introduced in 1922 by Coco Chanel and Ernest Beaux.

In 1922, Chanel launched her first perfume, Chanel No. 5, which became an instant hit and is still one of the world’s most popular perfumes today. The scent was inspired by the flowers in Balsan’s garden and was named after Chanel’s lucky number.

First known representation of CHANEL N°5 perfume by famous sketch artist of the era, Sem, 1921
First known representation of CHANEL N°5 perfume by famous sketch artist of the era, Sem, 1921

In the 1930s, Chanel’s popularity began to wane as new designers, such as Elsa Schiaparelli, emerged on the scene. However, she remained a prominent figure in the fashion industry and continued to design and sell clothing and accessories.

Marius Borgeaud's portrait of Coco Chanel
Marius Borgeaud’s portrait of Coco Chanel

Read our article about timeless accessories every woman should own.

During World War II, Coco Chanel was forced to close her shop and flee to Switzerland. After the war, she returned to Paris and re-opened her shop, but her career never fully recovered. She died in Paris in 1971 at the age of 87.

The Chanel 2.55 handbag
The Chanel 2.55 handbag

Read also our article about the famous accessories of the world. We include this handbag also with much more info.

Coco Chanel’s influence on the fashion industry was immense and her legacy continues to this day. She popularized the “little black dress,” the Chanel suit, the use of jersey fabric in clothing design, and her iconic perfume.

1958 Coco Chanel strapless evening dress, black lace with velvet sash
1958 Coco Chanel strapless evening dress, black lace with velvet sash
A Chanel Haute Couture suit, cashmere with long coat and matching dress, circa 1960, designed by Coco Chanel.
A Chanel Haute Couture suit, cashmere with long coat and matching dress, circa 1960, designed by Coco Chanel.

After Coco Chanel died in 1971, the Chanel fashion house continued to operate under the direction of Karl Lagerfeld, who had been working with the company since the 1950s. Lagerfeld became the head designer for Chanel and oversaw the creation of new collections, as well as the expansion of the brand into new areas such as fragrances and accessories.

Inspired by the No5 bottle cap the first Chanel watches were introduced in 1987
Inspired by the No5 bottle cap the first Chanel watches were introduced in 1987

Under Lagerfeld’s leadership, the Chanel brand maintained its reputation as a leader in the fashion industry and continued to produce high-quality clothing, accessories, and beauty products. Lagerfeld remained with the company until his death in 2019, at which point Virginie Viard, a longtime collaborator and member of the Chanel design team, was appointed as his successor.

The Chanel COMÈTE necklace, 1993
The Chanel COMÈTE necklace, 1993

Today, the Chanel brand continues to be highly influential in the fashion world and is known for its timeless, classic style and high-quality craftsmanship. It remains a major player in the luxury fashion industry and is recognized globally as a symbol of elegance and refinement.

The Chanel J12 white watch was introduced first in 2003 after the first black color version.
The Chanel J12 white ceramic watch is awarded the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève for the Lady’s category.

Check to see the official Chanel website for more details on the watch.

Want to see more watches for women? Read our article here.

Conclusion

Coco Chanel inspired the fashion industry for more than 100 years now. She was undoubtedly the best fashion designer of the 20th century. Today after 50 years of her death, Chanel is one of the most recognized brands in the world.

What do you think about Coco? Let us know in the comments.

One very popular fashion designer is Tom Ford. Read more about him here.

Nicole Kidman in the Chanel No5 campaign, 2005
Nicole Kidman in the Chanel No5 campaign, 2005
5 euros for the 125th Anniversary of Coco Chanel's birthday
5 euros for the 125th Anniversary of Coco Chanel’s birthday
Chanel Code Coco watch
Chanel Code Coco watch

Check it out at chanel.com

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