Chanel fashions are a classic; maybe because the haute couture house has been doing it right since its founding in 1909. To this day, the double C’s are coveted amongst mostly any woman and the brand’s fashion shows are packed with it-girls and models of the moment, all there for a slice of Chanel luxury. Although many of us see Chanel through the tinted-lenses of Karl Lagerfeld, who took over the House in 1983, he wasn't always the creative behind the classic tweeds and quilted handbags. Long before Karl there was Coco.
Gabrielle Chanel was born in Saumur, France in 1883 and sent to an orphanage at the age of 12, where she learned to sew, a skill that would prove to be invaluable to her. But how did Gabrielle turn into to Coco? Before she became the Chanel we know today, Gabrielle worked as a singer, performing in clubs around Vichy and Moulins where she was dubbed “Coco,” a nickname that would clearly stand the test of time. At just 20 years old, Coco Chanel met Etienne Balsan, who helped her open her first millinery shop, where ladies flocked to get her chic hats. Shortly after, she became romantically involved with Arthur “Boy” Capel, who financed her famed shop on Rue Cambon in 1910, where she established Chanel Modes, a millinery salon. It’s here where her career truly takes off, as the young designer makes waves by breaking fashion rules and by designing timeless staples that would come to stand the test of time. Click through to take a look at the top six most iconic designs from the one and only, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel.
6 Male influences in her designs
4 Little Black Dress
3 Costume Jewelry
2 Tweed Jacket
1 The Quilted Chanel 2.55
It was soldiers, believe it or not, who inspired Chanel’s first version of a handbag. In the early 1920’s Gabrielle was tired of having to carry her handbag with her hands and drew inspiration from soldiers’ packs to tweak the design of the then traditional purse. At once, she incorporated a long, extended strap onto her own bag, making it easier and much more practical to carry. The idea stuck with her, but the first ever Chanel handbag was only put into production after the Second World War, in February 1955, hence its name. The classic flap-over bag was first made in supple lambskin, had a delicate turn-lock and was quilted to give the bag body and act as a Chanel trademark, which is still the case today, nearly 60 years later. Plus it featured a long chain strap allowing the bag to be worn at multiple lengths, just as Chanel had desired. The signature quilting was made to lineup perfectly across the front flap and back pocket of the bag, adding to its immaculate detail. Since it’s first-ever 1955 version, Karl Lagerfeld has toyed with the design of the bag while still staying true to its roots. The 2.55 now features the brand’s interlocking C logo rather than a simple gold turn-lock, but the bag still comes in a quilted version, with the signature metal and leather chain strap that is so synonymous with the Chanel brand. The 2.55 is undoubtedly the most classic of Chanel bags, still highly coveted over half a century later.
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