COCO CHANEL, talented and creative woman who changed the world of fashion.
Her story will captivate you from the first lines………………………………………….
Coco Chanel (1883 – 1971) is an outstanding French fashion designer, creator of the fashion empire of the XX century. She is the founder of the “House...
COCO CHANEL, talented and creative woman who changed the world of fashion.
Her story will captivate you from the first lines………………………………………….
Coco Chanel (1883 – 1971) is an outstanding French fashion designer, creator of the fashion empire of the XX century. She is the founder of the “House of Chanel” and the owner of multimillion-dollar status. Her true name is Gabrielle Chanel.
Her authority was so great to that moment that women from different social classes and income, without hesitation put her dresses on and became equally attractive at once.
Gabrielle was born on August 19, 1883 in Saumur, France in the family of fair trader Albert Chanel and his girlfriend Jeanne Devolle. He married Jeanne Devolle several years after Chanel was born. They didn’t have permanent place to live. If things went well, they allowed themselves to have a primitive farm and settled down in some old abandoned shack, which people tried to get round. Her mother was a domestic servant in the homes of others and her father sold haberdashery goods on market.
All her life the legendary Mademoiselle has been shying of her miserable childhood. She was afraid that reporters could find out about her extramarital origins, her mother’s death from asthma and exhaustion or about her father who simply gave up having passed Gabrielle in a shelter at the age of twelve. Gabrielle even invented her own story about a cozy and clean house of two strict aunts, who in reality did not exist. Even being in the shelter, she began to write her life story. “I’m not an orphan, – she said. – My father went to America. He will come back soon and buy a big house.”
Having learned the sewing arts during her six years at Aubazine shelter, Chanel was able to find employment as a seamstress. When not plying her trade with a needle, she sang in a cabaret frequented by cavalry officers. It was at this time that Gabrielle acquired the name “Coco,” a name possibly derived from a popular song she sang, or an allusion to the French word for kept woman: cocotte. As cafe entertainer, Chanel broadcast a juvenile allure and suggestion of a mysterious androgyny, tantalizing the military habitués of the cabaret.
In early twenties Chanel came to the conclusion that the main thing in life was money. And when a young and rich bourgeois Étienne Balsan came into her life in 1905, Coco threw herself on his neck. In her eyes he was a real man, who had money and was able to dispose of them. Settled in the castle of her lover, Coco took full advantages of the new life. She was lying in bed until noon, drinking coffee with milk and read cheap novels. But Étienne did not think Coco was the woman, which was worth spending big money on.
In the spring of 1908 Coco met with a friend of Balsan Captain Arthur Edward ‘Boy’ Capel, a young Englishman with black straight hair and dull complexion. Arthur advised Coco to open a vending hat shop and promised Chanel a financial support. Later on he became her partner in business and personal life.
However, she was obliged to Étienne Balsan who helped to start her career. Étienne wanted to involve his bothered girlfriend into any matter that, under the pretext to evict her from his castle. Coco settled in his bachelor apartment on the Malesherbes Boulevard in Paris, where he usually had fun with his girlfriends. It was the place where Chanel began making and selling her hats. It’s funny that all the former mistress of Étienne became the first clients of Mademoiselle. They also expanded the range of her clients by their girlfriends. Things went very well and soon this bachelor apartment became too small.
At the end of 1910 Chanel finally broke up with the Balsan and began to live with Arthur Capel. Chanel became a licensed modiste (hat maker) in 1910 and opened a boutique at 21 rue Cambon, Paris named Chanel Modes. Soon the street became known throughout the world and had been linked to her name for half a century.
In 1913, Coco Chanel opened her boutique in Deauville that quickly attracted customers who became permanent clients. The creator of the famous hats dreamt to develop her own line of women’s clothing. At this time, she had no right to make “real” woman’s dress, as she could be responsible for illegal competition, because she wasn’t a licensed dressmaker. Chanel found the solution! She began to make dresses out of jersey fabric, which until then had been only used for men’s underwear and made her pile on it.
All of her dress-discoveries were born that way. While designing Coco did not excel herself, but simplified details. She did not draw her sketches of clothing and did not sew them. Usually Coco threw a cloth on a mannequin, then cut and slaughtered a shapeless mass of cloth until desired silhouette was manifested.
Chanel quickly became the fashion world designer, turning over the spotlight. She created a style that had been previously unthinkable for women. Those were track suits. She dared to appear in the “sailor suit” and tight skirt on the beaches of the seaside resorts. Style by “Chanel” was simple, practical and elegant. But in 1914 First World Was began. There was chaos and the “feast during the plague” in France. Coco continues to work with a vengeance, presenting new demands for clothing and generating a new idea – the first female skinny suit from Chanel. A couple of years later, she sewed redingote without a belt and ornaments, removing the bust and curves with almost masculine stringency. She created an understated waist, dress shirt, pants for women and beach pajamas.
Despite the fact that Chanel introduced the fashion of women’s pants, she didn’t wear them herself, as she thought that a woman would never look in the pants as well as a man. However, she liked a short man’s hair style. The reason is simple – short hair is easier to take care of. Once Coco cut her hair and proudly walked out “into the world”, explaining that everything in her house caught fire and it burned the curls. So in 1917 there was fashion for short man’s hair style among women. Before Chanel’s action ladies were obliged to be long-haired.
In 1919, her beloved Arthur Capel died in a car accident. She was devastated. If there had not been this tragedy in the life of Chanel, she would never have started experimenting with black cloth. Wiseguys state that she brought into vogue black color cloths to make all women in France mourning for her beloved. Coco herself was not allowed to officially mourn: she was not married to Arthur.
In the summer of 1920s, Chanel opened a big fashion house in Biarritz. Later on she met with Russian émigré the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich and they both felt mutual passion to each other. The romance was short but fruitful. Coco had Chanel No. 5, learned many new ideas from exotic lover. And after this meeting, there were parts of the Russian folk costume shirts with original embroidery in her new collection. But the most important is that during the road tour of France, in Grasse town Dmitri Pavlovich acquainted a Russian eminent chemist, perfumer Ernest Beaux with Coco, whose father worked for many years at the imperial court.
The meeting was successful for both of them. After a year of hard work and long-term experiments, Ernest placed in front of Coco ten probes and divided them into two groups. One half was numbered from 1 to 5, the second one – from 20 to 24. Chanel chose the sample with the number five, but when the chemist asked her why, Chanel replied: “I am showing my collection on May 5, i.e. on 5th day of 5th month. Let’s take the vial #5, I hope this number will bring the perfumes good luck.”
Designers spilled the golden liquid into a crystal bottle with a modest rectangular label that was kind of a godsend; usually perfume bottles had always had intricate shapes. As a result, the world had a “perfume for women that smell like a woman”. It was the first synthetic perfume of the 80 components that were not repeating the smell of a particular flower, as it had been earlier. The success experienced its creators – “Chanel No. 5″ is still are the best-selling perfume in the world.
By the early 20s the world almost ended up in fighting for gender equality. Women had the legal right to work, to vote and to have an abortion, but at the same time they lost their own face. Fashion was going through a situation where because of the sad egalitarianism women’s clothing began to lose its sexiness and sophistication.
This point was just caught by Coco Chanel, who managed to successfully combine incredible details in her models with revolutionary innovations calling femininity. She came up with her famous “little black dress”, which seemed at first glance, artless, rustic garb and impersonal. This decisive step brought the 44 year designer worldwide fame and made her finding a symbol of elegance, luxury and good taste.
“The little black dress” quickly became cult clothing and acquired a status symbol. It had been often copied, altered and redrawn. It is produced by a set of firms and fashion houses around the world. There is even a German company “Black Dress”, which started out with producing immortal work of Coco Chanel. The popularity of this dress is incredible. There are new and new interpretations of this dress till nowadays, so that we can confidently say that this dress will never go out of style.
In the early 20′s Chanel took up jewelry design. The idea to mix in a single product crystals and natural stones came not only to her, but she was the first who gave life to this idea. Chanel actively communicated with the world of Parisian bohemia: Many famous people sought to communicate with the well-known fashion designer just out of curiosity and were surprised to find Coco intelligent, witty and original thinking woman. Once Picasso called her “the most sensible woman in the world.”
The Duke of Westminster came into the life of Coco and their affair lasted for 14 years. This unusually long affair led Chanel into a different environment – the world of British aristocracy.
From 1926 to 1930 the Duke of Westminster was her most welcome guest. She believed all along that their love would be crowned with marriage. Coco saw the long-awaited final refuge in each of the houses where the Duke took her. The Duke of Westminster usually invited about sixty guests on weekends in his estate. Among them there were Winston Churchill, his wife and close friends of the Duke. Dinners were held with the music and sometimes he even invited a theater from London.
Sir Winston did not conceal his enthusiastic impressions: “When I met with famous Coco Chanel, I admired her. This is one of the most intelligent, nice and very strong women, with whom I have ever had to deal with.”
The well-known politician and statesman, not in vain called attention to these personality traits of Coco Chanel such as determination, willpower and desire for independence: they brought her to international success.
If she had given birth to the heir for the Duke, she would have become his wife. Prior to 1928, while the passion was strong in him, he was willing it too. Coco was 46 years old when she started going to counseling to physicians, but it was too late: the nature opposed to her dream. The Duke of Westminster, suffered no less than his beloved woman, but was forced to marry another one.
Chanel’s head went back to work. The success accompanied her in all endeavours. She was in the zenith of his fame, and despite her age (she was already over 50), she continued to enjoy enviable success from men.
After World War II designers in postwar France began to appear like mushrooms after rain. One of them, a young fashion designer Dior said: “Her elegance is astounding even the uninitiated. She revolutionized fashion with her pullover and ten strings of pearls.”
After the war Christian Dior made women like flowers. He dressed them in crinoline, tightened their waist and filled numerous folds on the thighs. Coco Chanel laughing at this “hyper-femininity”: “The man, who did not have any women in his life, tends to wear them as if he were a woman.”
Coco Chanel lived for some time in Switzerland and then returned back to Paris full of new generation of fashionistas, who were convinced that “Chanel” is the only brand of perfumes. She rented a small two-room apartment in his favorite Paris hotel “Ritz”.
Coco took up the fashion again. When Marlene Dietrich asked Coco Chanel, why she needed it, she explained it her very simple: “Because I’m dying of boredom.” Actually, there was also another explanation: “I just could not look at what they did with the Parisian haute couture, designers such as Dior or Balmen. These gentlemen went astray! The ladies in their gowns, one has only to sit down, becomes like and a old chair!”
The first reaction of experts and the press of a new collection of Chanel was shock and outrage – she could not offer anything new! Alas, the critics failed to understand that this was just what was her secret, and – nothing new, only an eternal, timeless elegance. Coco took revenge for a year. The collection that failed miserably in Paris was slightly revised and shown overseas. Americans gave her an ovation. There was a triumph of the “little black dress” in the USA. A new generation of fashionistas was considered an honor to wear Chanel and Coco herself turned into a tycoon, managing the largest house in the world fashion industry.
The world recognized Coco Chanel as the sole setter of the most refined elegance. The concept of “style from Chanel” firmly established in terms of fashion. Until old age Chanel retained a surprising performance. Ideas of new costumes came to her even in her sleep and then she woke up and began to create them. The secret of success of the incredible brand was due to the fact that from the very beginning the “Chanel” fashion house sold not only clothing to the ladies, but also the “art of living.”
Coco Chanel could not die in working time. She could not let this happen. On Sunday, January 10, 1971 she died quietly in the hotel room “Ritz” from the window of which was visible the luxurious world famous “House of Chanel.” Revenues of her empire were $160 million dollars per year, and there were found only three dresses in her wardrobe, but they were “very stylish attires”, as would say the Great Mademoiselle Coco Chanel.
It was a short Coco Chanel biography – the Woman who changed the world of fashion.
Live your dream, pursue it!