Coco Chanel: the life of the French designer who created the eponymous brand

Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel , nicknamed Coco, is one of the most influential figures in the world of fashion and one of the most famous French designers of all time. This year is the anniversary of her death, which took place on January 10, 1971 in Paris, and all the fashion magazines, newspapers and portals dedicated to her have celebrated her with specials and reports.

Coco Chanel: life

Born in Saumur, a small town near the Loire, on 19 August 1883  to Henri-Albert Chanel and Jeanne De Volle, Coco Chanel spent most of her childhood at the orphanage of the Sacred Heart institute, since on the death of her mother, the father is unable to take care of the children full-time. In the various Chanel collections (especially in the first of her), in fact, the monastic austerity is perceived and the black / white duo is always present.

Over the age limit to stay at the orphanage, Gabrielle (this is Coco’s real name) is transferred to a home arts school in Notre Dame.

When she reached the age of majority, Coco Chanel began working as a saleswoman at the Maison Grampayre linen and knitwear shop in Moulins, where she developed her notions of cutting and sewing.

With the meeting of her lover, Etienne de Balsan , in 1904, Coco also began her career as a designer, creating hats for one of Balsan’s Parisian shops. Their love story lasts eight years, during which Coco moves to the man’s castle in Royallieu, near Compiegne.

Chanel soon managed to create its clientele. At Balsan’s residence, the designer Coco meets her true love, Boy Capel, an industrialist from the city of Newcastle active in the export of coal, who unlike Balsan, enthusiastically finances Chanel’s projects.

The two go to live in Paris, where Boy buys his first boutique, located in Rue Cambon 21.

In 1912, Gabrielle Chanel began selling her clothing collections in addition to caps.

In 1913 Capel opens a new store for Chanel in the seaside resort of Deauville, where Coco is inspired by the sailors and people around her in the creation of her collections. She begins to understand the importance of wearing comfortable and practical. When the First World War broke out, most of the bourgeois ladies moved to Deauville to escape the horrors of war and Coco Chanel’s business took off.

In those years, Chanel meets Misia Sert , the woman who introduces her to the world of artists and intellectuals. Thanks to her friendship, she manages to meet prominent personalities of the time such as Paul Morand, Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Max Jacob and Igor Stravinskij. At the same time, however, she leaves her partner Capel, who gets engaged to the young Diana Lister Wyndham, whom she marries shortly thereafter. But in 1919 Capel died in a car accident.

In the 20s, Coco Chanel after burning her hair in the kitchen and forced to cut them all, unwittingly launching the fashion of the short cut, which soon after was imitated by all young Parisian women.

1926 for her is the year of the debut of the little black dress. In the same period she also began her passion for Scottish tweed (thanks to her relationship with the Duke of Westminster).


With success comes her perfume: Chanel n ° 5

Slowly Coco Chanel began to become a style icon , which all the glossy magazines of the time talk about. Her little black dress, for example, is defined by Vogue magazine as the invention of the automobile.

During this period Coco began a relationship with the Grand Duke Dmitrij Pavlovic, cousin of Tsar Nicholas II. And so in 1921, with the help of the Tsar perfumer (Ernest Beaux), Chanel created her perfume, the very famous Chanel n ° 5 , the fragrance that was completely innovative in those days, where the number 5 is chosen. as it corresponded to the fifth essence chosen by Chanel, although many say it is also her favorite number.

Chanel’s other successes and death in 1971

After the First World War, Coco revolutionized her clothes, changing their length, and introducing new materials such as jersey and tweed , but what caused the most sensation was the use of trousers for women.

The fashion proposed by Coco is made of elegance but at the same time practicality and comfort. The collections and materials used are taken from a working and humble life.

In the 1930s, Chanel also devoted itself to making jewelry products. Furthermore, she is not only a great stylist, but she also uses her talent in theatrical and cinematographic works, becoming an esteemed costume designer.

During the years of the Second World War, Chanel was forced to close her atelier and, due to some disreputable friendships, she was also arrested. After a forced exile in Switzerland, she moved to New York in 1953.

In 1954, now almost seventy-one, Coco Chanel reopened her maison and presented herself to her public with a new collection.

Coco Chanel will leave at the age of 87, on January 10, 1971, in a room of the Ritz Hotel in Paris, leaving her collections, her ideas and her style, simply inimitable, to inherit.


I Must Have di Coco Chanel

Chanel n°5

In 1921, Gabrielle Chanel decides to create an original fragrance, which resembles no other.

A bold perfume, an opulent, abstract, mysterious bouquet, devoid of dominant notes. A subversion in which aldehydes appear for the first time.

“A women’s perfume that smells of a woman”

Chanel 2.55

The famous 2.55 bag was born in 1955 and represents the needs of the women of that time: modern, active and dynamic, but at the same time elegant and functional.

A practical adjustable chain is added to the handbag, which allows women to wear it on the shoulder or crossbody.

“I got tired of having to carry my bag in my hand […] so I added thin straps, so that it can be used as a shoulder bag.”

He Tailor

In 1917 Coco Chanel totally changed the rules of the suit, making it in soft jersey or tweed.

The model proposed by Chanel was based on functionality and comfort, without highlighting the shapes of the waist.

Coco Chanel: famous phrases

We conclude our post dedicated to Coco Chanel and her life with the most famous phrases of the most important French designer of all time:

  • Fashion passes style remains;
  • Fashion reflects the times in which we live, even if, when times are trivial, we prefer to forget it;
  • A man can wear whatever he wants. It will always remain a woman’s accessory;
  • Some people think that luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity;
  • Strength comes from failures, not from one’s successes;
  • Fashion is made to go out of style;
  • If a woman is badly dressed, the dress is noticeable. If the woman is perfectly noticeable;
  • A woman at 19 can be attractive, at 29 seductive but only at 39 can she be irresistible. And over 39 he will never prove any woman who was once in a lifetime irresistible;