Biography of Fashion Designer Coco Chanel
Life of Coco Chanel
The life of Coco Chanel was unlike you would ever have imagined. Coco Chanel was a French fashion designer whose modernist philosophy, menswear-inspired fashions, and pursuit of expensive simplicity made her arguably the most important figure in the history of 20th-century fashion. Fashion designer Coco Chanel's influence on haute couture was so immense that she was the only person in the fashion industry to be named on TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people of the 20th century! Learn more about the life and fashion career of Coco Chanel and how fame didn't come easy to this inspiring fashion designer icon.
Fashion Designer Coco Chanel
The Life of Coco Chanel
Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel was born August 19, 1883 and died on January 10, 1971.
Coco Chanel was born the second illegitimate daughter of traveling salesman Albert Chanel and laundress Jeanne Devolle in the small city of Saumur, Maine-et-Loire, France. Coco was born in a poorhouse. She had five siblings: two sisters and three brothers. In 1895, when she was 12 years old, Chanel's mother died at age 32 from the stresses of their impoverished life; her father left the family a short time later. The young Chanel spent seven years in the orphanage of the Catholic monastery of Aubazine, where she learned how to sew and earned the title of being a trained seamstress. School vacations were spent with relatives in the provincial capital of Moulins, where female relatives taught Coco to sew with flourish. When Coco turned eighteen, she left the orphanage, and took up work for a local tailor.
It was at the tailor shop where she met and soon began an affair with the English playboy ienne Balsan. She was quite the party girl and sang in seedy nightclubs during the evenings. While living with Balsan, Coco began designing hats as a hobby. She simplified them by removing all the feathers and flowers making women's hats appear more streamlined. The hats immediately caught the attention of the female Parisian ite, and provided designer Chanel with a path toward earning financial independence for herself. With the aid of Balsan and another rich lover Arthur "Boy" Capel, Coco Chanel was able to acquire the property and financial backing to open her own millinery (hat) shop.
The Chanel Empire
The extremely influential Chanel suit, launched in 1923, it was an elegant women's suit consisting of a knee-length skirt with trim, along with a boxy jacket. This designer Chanel suit was traditionally made of woven wool with black trim and gold buttons and worn with large costume-pearl necklaces. Coco Chanel also popularized the little black dress, whose blank-slate versatility allowed this designer Chanel dress to be worn for day and evening, depending, of course, on how it was accessorized. Although unassuming black dresses existed before Chanel, the ones she designed were considered the haute couture standard.
In 1923, Chanel told Harper's Bazaar that "simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance." Chanel always kept the clothing she designed simple and comfortable. Chanel's boutiques sold practical, loose sportswear made of jersey (a fabric then only used for men's underwear), and ignored the corseted style of the time. Coco not only popularized the bob haircut and the tan, but introduced us to costume jewelry, which she cleverly mixed with real jewels, man-style dressing, and the first designer perfume to be marketed as a brand extension.
Hollywood stars including Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly fell in love with her effortlessly chic boxy cardigan suits. Her death in 1971 at age 87 came suddenly, with Coco spending her last moments in the style she had become accustomed to at her opulent private apartment in The Ritz. A true icon of fine women's fashions, no other designer can compare with the classic, feminine styles of designer Coco Chanel.
History of Coco Chanel
Creating a whole new look of elegance, the glorious life of the incomparable Coco Chanel shines again through the writings about her life and hundreds of illustrations.
Coco Chanel Photographs
"Images left behind are in the end stronger than truth and facts. Through Douglas Kirkland's images we can imagine what the famous Coco had been all about before she became the formidable Chanel," muses Karl Lagerfeld in Mademoiselle, a selection of photographs of Chanel taken by Douglas Kirkland in 1962 on assignment in Paris for the American magazine Look. Lagerfeld is the designer currently at the helm of the Parisian fashion house, made iconic by designer Coco Chanel during her long reign, from 1909-1971--and the designer of this handsome edition as well. Through his introduction and captions to these photographs, we understand how important Chanel's image has been to the success of the century-old French couture line. Kirkland, a Los Angeles-based photographer famous for his portrayals of Chanel and Marilyn Monroe, gives us a glimpse of the sympathetic character beneath the hard-working fashion doyenne's ever-impeccable exterior, with his elegant shots of Mademoiselle leaving her suite at the Ritz Hotel, in her apartment and studio at 31 rue Cambon and watching a runway show from the apartment's famous mirrored staircase.
Authentic Chanel Suits
If you want to really stand out at the office, wear one of these women's suits. You won't look like a clone and when you receive all the compliments, you can proudly state "Oh, It's a Chanel".
Chanel No. 5 Perfume
Coco Chanel introduced Chanel No. 5 on May 5th 1921 and its still in great demand in the year 2015, way to go Coco! She was the first fashion designer to lend her name to a fragrance line.
Launched by the design house of Chanel in 1921, CHANEL #5 is a women's fragrance that possesses a blend of a classic scent of sparkling florals. It is recommended for evening wear.