A Lesson in Fashion History: Chanel

A Lesson in Fashion History: Chanel

Fashion designer Coco Chanel is known for her timeless designs, trademark suits, and little black dresses. Gabrielle Chanel was born on August 19, 1883, in Saumur, France. Her early years were anything but glamorous. At the age 12, after the death of her mother, Chanel was placed in an orphanage by her father. Chanel was raised by nuns who taught her how to sew. Her nickname came from her short career as a singer, Chanel performed in clubs where she was called “Coco”. Chanel Modes Opening her first shop on Paris’s Rue Cambon in 1910, Chanel started out selling hats under the name “Chanel Modes”. The hats have an elegant and simple style, loved by the most famous French actresses of the time. In 1913, Gabrielle Chanel opens a new boutique in France and introduces a new collection of sportswear. Her line of clothing is revolutionary and changes women's relationship with their bodies and their way of life. In the year 1915, Mademoiselle Chanel opens her first couture house in Biarritz, France. Chanel N°5 In the 1920s, Chanel takes her thriving business to new heights. She launches her first perfume, Chanel N°5, on the fifth day of the fifth month, because she believes in the happiness of number 5. Perfume "is the invisible, unforgettable, ultimate fashion accessory that announces your arrival and prolongs your departure," Chanel once explained. This perfume remains the ultimate symbol of femininity. Creation of the first makeup collection In 1924, Chanel presents his first make-up collection, with lip colors and facial powders. During her travels to Scotland with the Duke of Westminster, Chanel discovers the beautiful tweed that inspires her iconic women's suits.

World war

The international economic depression of the 1930s had a negative impact on Chanel's company, but it was the outbreak of World War II that led her to close her business. She fired her workers and shut down her shops.

The return

In the early 1950s, Chanel made a glorious return to the fashion world. Chanel launches the iconic 2.55 quilted handbag. She invents a new style of shoulder strap that is uniquely strong and light, and that allows a woman’s hands to remain free. In 1957, Chanel creates the legendary two-tone slingback shoe. At once shortening the foot and lengthening the leg. Chanel died on January 10, 1971 in her apartment at the Hotel Ritz. Hundreds of people gathered in the Madeleine Church to say goodbye to the fashion icon. As a tribute, many of the mourners wore Chanel suits. Creation of ready to wear Chanel's house expands in 1978 with the introduction of her first ready-to-wear collection and the worldwide distribution of her line of iconic accessories. Karl Lagerfeld Just over a decade after her death, designer Karl Lagerfeld took the reins of her company to continue the Chanel legacy. He is the designer of all haute couture, ready-to-wear and accessory collections.

Coco Mademoiselle and Chance

In the year 2001Chanel introduces Coco Mademoiselle, a feminine and sexy fragrance inspired by the spirit of Mademoiselle Chanel. Two years later, Chanel introduces Chance, an original, youthful fragrance in which fresh floral tones contrast with sweet and spicy elements.

Rouge Coco and Bleu de Chanel

In 2009, Chanel introduces Rouge Coco, a luxurious lip color line designed by Peter Philips, Creative Director of Chanel make-up. Rouge Coco implements the latest technology to deliver a modern interpretation of the classic feminine essence. A year later, Chanel launches Bleu de Chanel, a provocative fragrance for men. This sensual blend of citrus and wood evokes an unexpected new vision of masculinity.

Chanel Boy Bag

Introduced in 2011 in Chanel’s Fall/Winter collection, the Chanel Boy bag made waves while paying homage to the love of Gabrielle Chanel’s life. The name Boy comes from Arthur “Boy” Capel whom Chanel would have a passionate affair with and who would inspire her to create many of the looks she would be famous for, and later inspire Karl Lagerfeld to create the Boy Bag.

The goodbye of a legendary designer

In February 2019, the legendary designer Lagerfeld died at the age of 85. Virginie Viard, who had worked with Lagerfeld at the fashion house for over 30 years, was named the new Creative Director.