What can I say for the biggest legend of fashion industry?
- The woman who made women dress like they deserve, get their own style.
- The woman who learned us to think about fashion, to be stronger.
- The woman who put these puffy dresses out of fashion...
- The woman who made all of us admire her and wear her clothes.
- The woman who gave a parfume a number as a name. The woman who let us wear trousers.
- The woman who let us all go to the beach with swimming suits.
- The woman who is unforgettable and different.
- A woman LIKE YOU!
...with just more determination, faith and passion.
Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel (19 August 1883 – 10 January 1971)was a pioneering French fashion designer whose modernist philosophy, menswear-inspired fashions, and pursuit of expensive simplicity made her an important figure in 20th-century fashion. She was the founder of the famous fashion brand Chanel. Her extraordinary influence on fashion was such that she was the only person in the field to be named on Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century.
|Born||Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel|
19 August 1883
|Died||10 January 1971 (aged 87)|
|Education||Catholic Monastery in Aubazine|
|Awards||Neiman Marcus Fashion Award, 1957|
Chanel was born on 19 August 1883 in the small town of Saumur in France. She was the second daughter of Albert Chanel and Jeanne Devolle, a market stallholder and laundrywoman respectively at the time of her birth. Her birth was declared the following day by employees of the hospital in which she was born. They, being illiterate, could not provide or confirm the correct spelling of the surname and it was recorded by the mayor François Poitou as "Chasnel". This misspelling made the tracing of her roots almost impossible for biographers when Chanel later rose to prominence. Her parents married in 1883. She had five siblings: two sisters, Julie (1882–1913) and Antoinette (born 1887) and three brothers, Alphonse (born 1885), Lucien (born 1889) and Pierre (born and died 1891). In 1895, when she was 12 years old, Chanel's mother died of tuberculosis and her father left the family. Because of this, the young Chanel spent six years in the orphanage of the Roman Catholic monastery of Aubazine, where she learned the trade of a seamstress. School vacations were spent with relatives in the provincial capital, where female relatives taught Coco to sew with more flourish than the nuns at the monastery were able to demonstrate. When Coco turned eighteen, she left the orphanage, and the ambitious young girl took off for the town of Moulins to become a cabaret singer. During this time, Chanel performed in clubs in Vichy and Moulins where she was called “Coco.” Some say that the name comes from one of the songs she used to sing, and Chanel herself said that it was a “shortened version of cocotte, the French word for ‘kept woman,” according to an article in The Atlantic. While she failed to get steady work as a singer, it was here that she met rich, young French textile heir Étienne Balsan, to whom she soon became an acknowledged mistress, keeping her day job in a tailoring shop.
Balsan lavished on her the beauties of "the rich life": diamonds, dresses and pearls. (Note that in France, mistresses have been acknowledged for centuries among the wealthy, though the members of the occupation, such as Chanel, were disparaged in private as upper-class prostitutes). While living with Balsan, Chanel began designing hats as a hobby, which soon became a deeper interest of hers. "After opening her eyes," as she would say, Coco left Balsan and took over his apartment in Paris. In 1913, she opened up her very first shop which sold a range of fashionable raincoats and jackets. Situated in the heart of Paris it wasn't long before the shop went out of business and Chanel was asked to surrender her properties.
During the pre-war era, Chanel met up with an estranged and former best friend of Étienne Balsan, Arthur "Boy" Capel, with whom she soon fell in love. With his assistance, Chanel was able to acquire the property and financial backing to open her second millinery shop in Brittany. Her hats were worn by celebrated French actresses, which helped to establish her reputation. In 1913, Chanel introduced women’s sportswear at her new boutique in Deauville, in the Rue Gontaut-Biron; Marthe, Countess de Gontaut-Biron (daughter of American diplomat John George Alexander Leishman), was Chanel's first aristocratic client. Her third shop and successor to her biggest store in France was located in Deauville, where more women during the World War I era came to accept her view that women were supposed to dress for themselves and not their men.
Later in life, she concocted an elaborate false history for her humble beginnings. Chanel would steadfastly claim that when her mother died, her father sailed for America to get rich and she was sent to live with two cold-hearted spinster aunts. She even claimed to have been born in 1893 as opposed to 1883, and that her mother had died when Coco was two instead of twelve.
In 1920, she was introduced by ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev to world famous composer Igor Stravinsky (who composed 'The Rite of Spring'), to whom she extended an offer for him and his family to reside with her. During this temporary sojourn it was rumoured that they had an affair.
In 1925, Vera Bate Lombardi, reputedly the illegitimate daughter of the Marquess of Cambridge, became Chanel's muse, and also her liaison to a number of European royal families. Chanel established the English look based upon Lombardi's personal style. Lombardi also had the highest possible social connections. She introduced Chanel to her uncle, the Duke of Westminster, her cousin, the Duke of Windsor, and many other aristocratic families.
In 1939, at the beginning of World War II, Chanel closed her shops. She believed that it was not a time for fashion. She lived in the Hôtel Ritz Paris on and off for more than 30 years, making the hotel her Paris home even during the German occupation. During that time she was criticized for having an affair with Hans Gunther von Dincklage, a German officer and Nazi spy who arranged for her to remain in the hotel. She also maintained an apartment above her couture house at 31 rue Cambon and built Villa La Pausa in Roquebrune on the French Riviera.
In 1943, after four years of professional separation, Chanel contacted Lombardi, who was living in Rome. She invited Lombardi to come to Paris and renew their work together. This was actually a cover for "Operation Modellhut", an attempt by Nazi spymaster Walter Schellenberg to make secret contact with Lombardi's relative Winston Churchill. When Lombardi refused, she was arrested as a British spy by theGestapo. Chanel was later charged as a collaborator, but avoided trial due to an intervention by the British Royal family.
Walter Kutschmann, who was responsible for the murder of thousands of Poland's Jews early in World War II, was transferred to France in 1943 where he became Chanel's Paris SS contact. Chanel was a very close friend of Walter Schellenberg to the extent that when he died penniless of cancer in Milan, Chanel paid for his funeral. Kutschmann made frequent trips to Spain with Chanel with large sums of money passing from Kutschmann to Chanel.
In 1945, she moved to Switzerland, eventually returning to Paris in 1954, the same year she returned to the fashion world. Her new collection did not have much success with the Parisians because of her relationship with the Nazis; However, it was much applauded by the British and Americans, who became her faithful customers.
Coco had affairs with some of the most influential men of the time, but she never married. The reason may be found in her answer, when asked why she did not marry the Duke of Westminster: "There have been several Duchesses of Westminster. There is only one Chanel."
“Fashion fades, only style remains the same.”
“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.”
|“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.”|