Date: August 19, 1883 - January 10, 1971 (87 years old)
Who Was Coco Chanel?
Coco Chanel was a French designer and a businesswoman who ruled the Parisian haute couture for about sixty years.
She is known for the classic innovations, including the quilted purse, the woman’s suit, the “little black dress,” and costume jewelry. She was nicknamed “Coco” during her years as a singer.
Facts About Coco Chanel
Coco learned how to sew at an orphanage
The nickname, Coco, came from her brief years as a singer
She was a licensed milliner
Coco Chanel designed herself the famous Chanel logo
She battled court cases for decades because of her perfume
She was allegedly an agent of Nazi
Coco Chanel was a friend of Winston Churchill
She was never married, although she was involved in many affairs
She used to sing before sewing
She lied about her age.
Inspirational Quotes from Coco Chanel
“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”
“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”
“Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.”
“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”
Coco Chanel Biography
Coco Chanel was born Gabrielle Coco Chanel in Saumur, France, on August 19, 1883. Her mother suffered from tuberculosis and died when she was only around 12 years old. Her early life was marked by poverty.
After the death of her mother, Coco Chanel’s father abandoned her together with her siblings. They were forced to go to an orphanage where they grew at. Coco stayed for six years at a Roman Catholic orphanage. The nuns at the orphanage taught her how to sew.
At the age of 18, Coco left the convent. She moved to Moulins. She was employed as a seamstress and later had her singing career at cabaret events. She did not manage to keep a stage career as her singing was not good enough.
In 1908, she was involved in an affair with Etienne Balsan, who was a wealthy aristocrat. This allowed her to associate with several wealthy aristocrats.
In 1913, Chanel Coco, with financial aid from Arthur Capel, her lover, opened a boutique in Deauville that sold fashionable clothes.
She made innovative use of the jersey fabric, which was a manufactured cloth. The jersey fabric was more useful during the First World War. This made her gain her reputation for being a fashion icon.
Her initial success in the business propelled her to start another boutique in Biarritz. The boutique later became a shopping point for wealthy individuals during the First World War. By 1919, Chanel Coco had established a boutique at the center of the most fashionable place in Paris.
After the world war, Coco Chanel needed to revolutionize women’s clothes. To achieve this, she started by liberating women from corset bondage. She encouraged a casual and elegant range of clothes for women.
She pioneered significant items of clothing such as:
The collarless cardigan jacket
The floating evening scarf
The bias cut dress was termed as a Ford because almost everyone had it
The shoestring shoulder strap
The wearing of real jewels alongside junk
Coco Chanel retired from fashion in 1938. However, she made a comeback 16 years later. This was after she felt that men were dominating French fashion. Critics did not receive her post-war collection well.
However, it proved popular with the public. She pulled back the rich and famous women in France who adopted and enjoyed the Chanel look. She had a long-lasting influence on the fashion industry for years.
Coco prided herself on her fashion, great taste, and practicality combined with an awareness of the people’s needs. This made her one of the most known individuals at the time in world fashion.
She was also an innovator in the fashion aspects, developing new and unique kinds of jewelry that imitated expensive jewelry. This allowed wealthy individuals to keep their jewelry at home.
Coco Chanel During the Second World War
Coco Chanel closed her shops when the Second World War began in 1939. She stated that war was not a time for fashion. This made more than three thousand of her employees lose their jobs. It was termed as retaliation after her workers had sought better working conditions and better wages earlier.
She was involved in a romantic relationship with Hans Gunther von Dincklage, a German officer when Germany occupied Paris. This relationship allowed her to get a luxury apartment in Ritz during the Second World War.
Her wartime record has been widely criticized because of her sympathy for Germany’s cause and her political beliefs that expressed anti-Semitism. Hal Vaughan, a biographer, discovered detailed documents that indicated that Chanel Coco worked for General Walter Schellenberg, chief of the SS Intelligence.
General Walter Schellenberg was later convicted of war crimes at the end of the war and imprisoned for six years. Chanel Coco paid for his medication upon his release. It was also rumored that she was to be used as a courier by the SS in 1943 to make a peace deal with Winston Churchill and the allies. However, this plan did not succeed.
Later Life and Death
Following a series of post-war interrogations, she moved to Switzerland, where she lived until 1954. Male designers such as Christian Dior emerged and began to eclipse the Chanel Coco brand.
She returned to Paris in 1954 and later reopened her couture house. Her label was a success in Britain and America but less so in France.
She was never married and had no children. Many biographies have termed her as an enigma. She died at the Hotel Ritz on January 10, 1971, at the age of 87 years.
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