Coco Chanel: A Closer Look at the French Fashion Designer

Chanel, a prestigious luxury fashion brand has everything that a woman desires; fashion items, accessories, fragrance, makeup, skincare, fine jewelry, and watches. Every woman knows Chanel no.5, the brand’s iconic fragrance that has conquered the world of perfumes and fashion. The person behind the Chanel brand is Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, a French fashion designer who has been popular for timeless pieces, designs, little black dresses, and trademark suits. Her humble beginnings will later on be the world’s timeless tale. Who would have thought that a girl raised in an orphanage would become the forefront of modern fashion? Her mother worked in the poorhouse and died when Gabrielle was only six. She was then abandoned to her relatives.

3 Where It All Began

Amazingly, Coco Chanel had a short stint in singing before she opened her first clothing shop in 1910. This is where she got the name “Coco.”

Until the 1920's, Coco Chanel became one of the renowned fashion designers in Paris. Bravely replacing women’s tight corsets with casual elegance and comfortable fashion pieces, the world turned its eyes on her as she designed simple dresses and suits and women’s trousers. In the 1920's, Coco Chanel launched her very first perfume and it was also at this time when she introduced the Chanel suit and her infamous little black dress.

In 1925, she introduced her signature cardigan jacket and in 1926, she introduced her little black dress. What makes the Chanel brand different from other luxury brands is that her pieces are timeless, generation after generation has continued to fall in love with her creations. Her designs were revolutionary, who would have thought that a woman can look good in manly clothes? Coco Chanel started a revolution in the fashion industry that will forever change the game and name of fashion design.

Coco Chanel introduced Chanel No. 5 in 1922, a perfume that has continued to bring sales to company today. She partnered with Pierre Wertheimer in the perfume business and they still continue to lead the perfume company today.

Coco Chanel: More Than Just Fashion

She briefly worked as a nurse in World War II. Nazi occupation meant the fashion business in Paris was cut off for some years. She also had an affair during World War II with a Nazi officer which resulted in some years of diminished popularity and an exile of sorts to Switzerland. In 1954, she made a big comeback by bringing life to haute couture. Her natural, casual clothing, including the Chanel suit, once again caught the eyes and the attention of women. Talk about Chanel purses and women would surely go raving about them all day. She also introduced bell bottom pants and pea jackets for women—clothing pieces that you can still see until this day.

In 1969, Chanel’s fascinating life story became the basis for the Broadway musical Coco starring Katharine Hepburn as the legendary designer. Alan Jay Lerner wrote the book and lyrics for the show’s song while Andre Prévin composed the music. The show received seven Tony Award nominations.

2 The Continuation Of A Legend

Coco Chanel died on January 10, 1971, at her apartment in the Hotel Ritz. She never got married, echoing her line “I never wanted to weigh more heavily on a man than a bird.” Chanel fans and loyalists mourned with their Chanel suits and the world bid farewell to a true fashion icon who challenged and dared the French woman’s fashion.

More than a decade after Coco Chanel’s death, Karl Lagerfield, a designer, bravely took over the company to live on with the Chanel legacy. Today, you see Chanel being worn by the biggest celebrities. Chanel is on glossy magazines, red carpets, runways, and it has continued to be every woman’s inspirational brand. Its millions of annual sales prove that Chanel has continued to thrive in the fashion industry and that the Chanel legacy will continue to echo timelessness, classic pieces and designs that will never wear out over time.

Chanel’s life story continues to captivate people’s attention because of her strong-willed determination and unparalleled energy that has been her driving force to maintain her stature as a renowned fashion designer. Her social prominence and her success as a fashion designer gave her all the connections with society’s high profile persons. No one could stop Coco Chanel from soaring high and from conquering waves in the fashion industry. She was ambitious, competitive, and always hungry for opportunity. Although there were a lot of controversies that sparked during her prominence, because of her affiliation with different men, her designs and her contribution to French fashion was never questioned.

1 Leaving Behind A Legacy

Her legacy even started way back in 1915 when Harper’s Bazaar wrote about her designs stating, "The woman who hasn't at least one Chanel is hopelessly out of fashion […] This season the name Chanel is on the lips of every buyer." Her biggest legacy to French fashion would be putting an end to corsets and screaming of liberty from women’s fuss and constraints over their fashion pieces. Her design echoed the embodiment of a modern woman—fashionable, youthful, sportive confidence, and liberated from the fuss and frills of any fashion constraint. Women have fallen in love with the new found confidence that Coco Chanel has given them.

Her design philosophy emphasized the need to understand true elegance through her fashion pieces. While she became big in the 1920's, because of her brave, innovative, and modern designs, Coco Chanel braved new storms of fashion. Her physical appearance was also different from the usual long-haired, full-bodied women of France. She had short cropped hair, tanned skin, and a boyish look. The type of beauty that the world learned to fall in love with.

Coco Chanel was different; the very reason why her legacy is still alive.

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