Goddess of Fashion : Coco Chanel
Starting with a Paris hat shop in 1914, Coco Chanel went on to become one of the biggest names in the fashion industry. In the mid-1920s her trademark suit-and-hat ensemble became the Chanel look. She also created the world-famous Chanel No. 5 perfume. While she created little new work in the period during and after World War II, her name remained associated with haute couture (high fashion).
Detailed analysis of her life, style , work & quotes :
Coco Chanel, needs no introduction at least for those people who are connected with the fashion world. Coco Chanel created timeless designs that are still popular today. She herself became a much revered style icon known for her simple yet sophisticated outfits paired with great accessories, such as several strands of pearls. As Chanel once said,“luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.”Coco Chanel stuck to one particular style throughout her life, thereby creating a very distinct signature style.The clothes she created changed the way women looked and how they looked at themselves. Coco Chanel wasn’t just ahead of her time. She was ahead of herself.
Some characteristics of her style include:
- Simplicity, elegance and comfort: the key elements of her style
- Black and white are the colors she often stuck to
- Nautical: many garments were inspired by sailor and nautical themes and often featured stripes
- Men’s wear: she had an ability to transform men’s wear into elegant and comfortable feminine clothes
- Lots of accessories: large and plentiful fake pearl necklaces were often featured in her outfits
- The little black dress: Chanel has been credited as the ‘inventor’ of this wardrobe staple in 1926
- Focus on style and not trends
Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel – Coco Chanel – was born in France in 1883. With her enormous talent she created a fashion empire which encompassed clothing, jewellery, and perfumes. Coco Chanel’s fashion legacy managed to free and empower women throughout the world with this unique style.
Being a great fashion designer she created her jewellery in pure contrast with the simplicity of her designed clothes. Therefore her jewellery is bold an theatrical, embracing the primitive and barbaric in her accessories. With such complex pieces and tidy clothing she created a look so womanly and sophisticated that it has never gone out of fashion since she first imagined it more than 90 years ago.
Her approach to jewellery design was very similar to the clothing creation. She will not sketch nor draw but compose on the model’s body her art pieces. In her studio she kept pieces of flexible modeling plastic which she shaped into jewellry, embedding real and fake gemstones into the plastic as she worked, moving them around to get exactly the color combinations and balance she desired.
Using a lot of custom jewellery, Chanel draped herself and her models in ropes of faux (fake) pearls and gold tone chains. Her early experiences of poverty had made her an expert at making do and using odds and ends creatively. The Paris activity expanded into a house of couture and she was no longer dependent on Boy Capel’s generosity (her lover).
Chanel was the first fashion designer to use costume jewellery to create the finishing touch to her overall look. Although the jewellery trend of Art Deco set by Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpelswas was a hit, Chanel, however, developed her own style. She proposed the use of brightly colored fruit salad glass stones meant to imitate the carved precious and semi-precious gemstones. As always, her approach was innovative and unique.
As for her attitude towards jewellery she always said:
A woman should mix fake and real.
To ask a woman to wear real jewellery only
is like asking her to cover herself with real
flowers instead of flowery silk prints.
She’d look faded in a few hours.
I love fakes because I find such jewellery provocative,
and I find it disgraceful to walk around with millions
around your neck just because you’re rich.
The point of jewellery isn’t to make a woman look rich
but to adorn her; not the same thing.
Coco Chanel's most famous quotes :
"In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different."
"Fashion passes, style remains."
"A woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future."
"There is no time for cut-and-dried monotony. There is time for work. And time for love. That leaves no other time."
"A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous."
"I don't understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little - if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that's the day she has a date with destiny. And it's best to be as pretty as possible for destiny."
'Where should one use perfume?' a young woman asked. 'Wherever one wants to be kissed,' I said."
"Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman."
"Nature gives you the face you have at twenty. Life shapes the face you have at thirty. But at fifty you get the face you deserve."
“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.”
"The best color in the whole world, is the one that looks good, on you!”
“As long as you know men are like children, you know everything!”
In 1971, at the age of 88, Chanel died in her beloved Paris. She was still working and designing until the very end. Friends joked that it was no coincidence that she passed away on a Sunday, since that was the only day that the salon was closed, so it was the only day she had time to do it.
Biography of Coco Chanel :
Designer Coco Chanel was born Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel in 1883, although she would later claim that her real date of birth was 1893, making her ten years younger.
Her place of birth was also something that she sought to disguise. Coco was born in the workhouse in the Loire Valley where her unmarried mother worked, although she asserted that she was born in Auvergne.
Her mother died when she was six years old, leaving her father with five children, whom he quickly farmed out to various relatives. The young Chanel was sent to the orphanage of the Catholic monastery of Aubazine, where she learned the trade of a seamstress.
School vacations were spent with relatives in the provincial capital of Moulins where Gabrielle learnt to sew with more flourish than the nuns at the monastery had been able to teach her. When she turned 18, she left the orphanage, and took up work for a local tailor.
Later, when questioned, Chanel would claim that when her mother died, her father sailed for America 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 six instead of 12. All this was done to diminish the stigma that poverty, orphanhood, and illegitimacy bestowed upon unfortunates in 19th-century France.
It was during a brief stint as a singer in cafes and concert halls that Gabrielle adopted the name Coco, a nickname given to her by local soldiers who went to watch her.
World War I led her to move to the resort town of Deauvile, where Chanel became the mistress of a rich ex-military officer and textile heir Etienne Balsan in 1908. At the age of 23, she became his mistress and moved into his chateau, where she lived for three years. It was here that she started designing and creating hats as a diversion, which then turned into a commercial venture.
She then started a relationship with a wealthy English Industrialist called Arthur Edward 'Boy' Capel who was a friend of Balsan. He installed her into a Parisian apartment and financed her first shops. The relationship lasted nine years, even after Capel married in 1918.
Through the patronage and connections that these men provided she was able to open her own millinery shop in Paris in 1910 and she soon had boutiques in both Deauville and Biarritz. In 1919, the single most devastating event of her life occurred when Capel was killed in a car accident. She commissioned a roadside memorial at the site of the accident.
Twenty-five years after the event, she told a friend: "His death was a terrible blow to me. In losing Capel, I lost everything. What followed was not a life of happiness I have to say."
During the 1920s, Coco Chanel became the first designer to create loose women's jersey, traditionally used for men's underwear, creating a relaxed style for women ignoring the stiff corseted look of the time. They soon became very popular with clients, a post-war generation of women for whom the corseted restricted clothing seemed old-fashioned and impractical.
By the 1920s, Chanel was established at 31, rue Cambon in Paris (which remains its headquarters to this day) and become a fashion force to be reckoned with. Chanel became a style icon herself with her striking bob haircut and tan placing her at the cutting edge of modern style.
In 1922, she launched the fragrance Chanel No. 5, which remains popular to this day. Two years later, Pierre Wertheimer became her business partner (taking on 70% of the fragrance business), and reputedly her lover. The Wertheimers continue to control the perfume company today.
In 1925, Chanel launched her signature cardigan jacket, and the following year matched its success with her little black dress. Both items continue to be a staple part of every Chanel collection.
During World War II, Chanel was a nurse, although her post-war popularity was greatly diminished by her affair with a Nazi officer during the conflict and she moved to Switzerland to escape the controversy.
However, she ended this self-imposed exile in 1954, returning to Paris when she took on Christian Dior's overtly feminine New Look. She expanded the signature style with the introduction of pea jackets and bell-bottoms for women. Her new collection, panned by the press in Europe, was a hit in the United States.
Hollywood stars including Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly fell in love with her effortlessly stylish boxy cardigan suits.
During her life, Coco Chanel also designed costumes for the stage, including Cocteau's 'Antigone' (1923) and 'Oedipus Rex' (1937) and cinematic works such as 'La Regle de Jeu'.
A Broadway musical of her life opened in 1969, with Katharine Hepburn taking the role of Chanel.
Coco Chanel worked until her death in 1971 at the age of 88, spending her last moments in the style she had become accustomed to at her opulent private apartment in The Ritz.
Karl Lagerfeld has been chief designer of Chanel's fashion house since 1982. His ability to continuously mine the Chanel archive for inspiration testifies to the importance of Coco Chanel's contribution to the world of fashion.
The first film about Chanel was 'Chanel Solitaire' in 1981, with Marie-France Pisier playing the designer. This was followed by the American TV movie 'Coco Chanel' in 2008, which rewrote her history by overlooking her connections to the Nazis.
In 2009, French actress Audrey Tatou played the designer as a young woman in 'Coco Before Chanel'.
'A woman with a creative vision can change the world '......undoubtedly ,glamorous & extra ordinary life of Coco Chanel supports this statement .Coco Chanel is a fashion icon. Her personal life was filled with one scandal after another but she defined modern style more than any other designer. Coco Chanel's influence on fashion still inspires me and many other women around the world today. She’s a true fashion icon and always had an eye for style.
hats off to the goddess of fashion. Coco we all love you.
- Swapnil Shukla
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