Coco Chanel by Daniella Carrese

Coco Chanel

By Daniella Carrese

Coco Chanel was one of the most influential designers in the fashion industry. She added so much to the world of design. Today her designs are warn by celebrities and aristocrats alike.


Early Life

Gabrielle Chanel was born in Saumur, France in August of 1883 to unwed mother Jeanne Devolle, a laundrywoman and father, Albert Chanel a traveling street peddler.  Her mother died when she was 12. As a result she was shipped off to a convent, in Aubazine, for orphans by her father, along with her two other sisters.

Getting Started

When Chanel was 18 she was sent to a boarding house for Catholic girls, where she learned how to sew.  She was hired as a seamstress, as her first job. She acquired her nickname “Coco” from the French word cocotte meaning lady or darling because of her cabaret shows she had put on when she was not working. Coco became the mistress of a wealthy cavalry officer, who indulged her with luxuries. Later she began an affair with a wealthy English upper-class man, Captain Arthur Capel had financed her first shop and greatly influenced her view of the world. Her taste in everything was changed to only the best that would be received. Her famous, eau de toilette, Chanel No. 5 was greatly changed due to the views of her paramour. After he had died due to a car accident, she was greatly devastated. Later she became a licensed hat maker or modiste.  Her hats became famous because of actress Gabrielle Dorziat. In 1931, while in Monte Carlo, she was introduced to Samuel Goldwyn who had asked her to come to Hollywood twice a year to design costumes for MGM stars.

World War II

During WWII, Chanel closed her shop. She had expressed her suppression toward Jews because of her involvement with the aristocracy. Her eau de toilette Chanel No.5 was very profitable during the war. She became a paid Nazi spy for the chief of the SS intelligence. Later she was used for a mission, because she was acquainted with Winston Churchill, to relieve tension between the English and Germans.

Later Years

Chanel returned to Paris in 1954 and also became reestablished with the fashion world.  Her couture house was not considered popular among the Parisians because of her betrayal to the French people during the war. But her new British and American customers loved her work. In 1971 she died at the age of 87 at the Hotel Ritz.

Audrey Hepburn

Coco Chanel gave the world of fashion many famous attributes including the “Chanel Suit” which became the casual formal wear for the prosperous. Also, the famous “Little Black Dress” arranged with pearls, was and is an everyday evening formal look. The look was also made famous by Audrey Hepburn in the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.  Today Chanel’s shops are seen throughout the world but while you are staying in your Paris apartment rental you can easily walk to the most famous of stores.

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