The image of the double crossing "C" marks the brand of famed fashion designer Coco Chanel. Chanel introduced innovative elements into the world of fashion throughout the 20th century. Coco Chanel managed to encompass and extend luxury, not only with haute couture designs, but into ready-to-wear pieces as well. The brand of Coco Chanel is distinguished by pearls, quilted bags with chain straps and tailored pieces.
Born as Gabrielle Chanel on August 19, 1883, in Saumur, France, Coco Chanel came from a family of poverty and was raised in an Aubazine orphanage by nuns. It was under the care of those nuns that Coco Chanel learned the craft that would later bring her to fame -- the art of sewing. Gabrielle gained the moniker "Coco" during her days as a singer in France. The nickname is thought to have been short for "cocotte," meaning kept woman.
In 1910, Chanel ventured into business with the opening of her first shop on Rue Cambon in Paris. At this famed boutique and a few others throughout Biarritz and Deauville, Chanel created iconic styles from tweed and the lesser-known fabric, jersey. Among her own crafted pieces, merchandise included hats, ballet flats and the staple little black dresses. Chanel incorporated elements from menswear into her design of classic suits with form-fitting skirts and collarless jackets. Coco Chanel turned fashion into a way of life. She believed in the comfort and ease of luxury, as opposed to the constrictive barriers of earlier times, such as corsets.
Chanel No. 5
Coco Chanel became a pioneer as the first fashion designer to engage in the fragrance industry with the debut of Chanel No. 5 in the 1920s. Chanel gravitated to the fifth sample of perfumer Ernest Beaux for its fresh, soap-like aroma. Chanel No. 5 blends vanilla, jasmine, rose and sandalwood to formulate an enticing scent. Looked upon as an invisible fashion accessory by the famed designer, Chanel No. 5 remains a popular and classic brand today.
Aside from being remembered as an iconic fashion designer, Coco Chanel is widely known for the happenings within her personal life. Chanel had many suitors in her time, including Etienne Balsan, who assisted in the establishment of her boutiques. Perhaps her most notable liaison was with Nazi officer Hans Gunther von Dincklage. In the midst and aftermath of World War II, Chanel was forced to close her shops and reverted into a reclusive life until her return to the fashion industry during the 1950s. Coco Chanel remained active in the fashion industry until her death on January 10, 1971.
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