On this day in 1883 Coco Chanel was born, a French fashion designer and founder of the Chanel brand. Along with Paul Poiret, Chanel was credited with liberating women from the constraints of the “corseted silhouette” and popularizing a sportive, casual chic as the feminine standard of style in the post-World War I era.
Her design aesthetic was realized in jewelry, handbags, and fragrance. Her signature scent, Chanel No. 5, has become an iconic product. She is the only fashion designer listed on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.
Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel was born to an unmarried mother, Eugénie Jeanne Devolle known as Jeanne a laundrywoman, in the charity hospital run by the Sisters of Providence (a poorhouse) in Saumur, France.
She was Jeanne’s second child with Albert Chanel; the first, Julia, was born less than a year earlier.
Albert Chanel was an itinerant street vendor who peddled work clothes and undergarments, living a nomadic life, traveling to and from market towns.
When Gabrielle was 11 her mother died of bronchitis at the age of 31, and was sent to live in Catholic boarding school in Moulin Frances.
It was at Moulin’s that Chanel met the young French ex-cavalry officer and the wealthy textile heir Étienne Balsan. At the age of twenty-three, Chanel became Balsan’s mistress.
Biographer Justine Picardie, in her 2010 study Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life (Harper Collins), suggests that the fashion designer’s nephew, André Palasse, supposedly the only child of her sister Julia-Berthe who had committed suicide, was actually Chanel’s child by Balsan.
Chanel began designing hats while living with Balsan, initially as a diversion that evolved into a commercial enterprise. She became a licensed milliner (hat maker) in 1910.
In 1913, Chanel opened a boutique in Deauville financed by Arthur Capel where she introduced deluxe casual clothes suitable for leisure and sport. The fashions were constructed from humble fabrics such as jersey and tricot, primarily used for men’s underwear.
Todays’ YouTube presentation by user name Chanel, gives you a little history of Coco Chanel:
Chanel’s philosophy was to emphasize understated elegance through her clothing. Her popularity thrived in the 1920s, because of innovative designs. Chanel’s own look itself was as different and new as her creations. Instead of the usual pale-skinned, long-haired and full-bodied women preferred at the time, Chanel had a boyish figure, short cropped hair, and tanned skin. She had a distinct type of beauty that the world came to embrace.
As we remember Coco Chanel today, as we celebrated today’s day to remember.
Written & Designed by JD Mitchell