Masterclass: Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel

13 May 2015

Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel was born on the 19th of August 1883 in the French town of Saumur. She spent most of her childhood in an orphanage, where she developed a strong character and a great desire of independence and freedom. In 1909 she founded Chanel, at the (now famous) ‘Rue Cambon’ in Paris. Comfort and a great fit, was what fashion was all about according to miss Coco. She argued that a woman should be able to move freely and not be constrained by corsets, which were in fashion at the time.

Booming business
Chanel designed luxurious and comfortable two-piece suits. These suits proved to be her breakthrough. Her next move was a perfume that would fit perfectly with her signature style: Chanel No. 5 was born. World War II forced the French fashion house to close its doors but Coco quickly reclaimed her fame after the war. It became booming business and she became a well known Haute Couture designer.
In 1983 she was succeeded by Karl Lagerfeld. He managed to attract a younger crowd and made Chanel into one of the most recognizable and coveted brands of the 20th and 21st century.

Five things that you didn’t know about Coco Chanel

  1. Her first passion wasn’t fashion. She wanted to be a singer and did cabaret in France as a teenager.
  2. Coco Chanel isn’t her real name. She was born Gabrielle Chanel. Her nickname Coco originates from a song she used to sing: “Qui qu’a vu Coco”
  3. The Little Black Dress: Coco Chanel introduced the LBD as early as 1926! Thank you Coco!She is frequently misquoted. Yes, even some of her most famous quotes are incorrect. 
  4. She worked until her death. She worked passionately to finish her last couture collection, Coco died in 1971 aged 88.