Coco Chanel is known for her classic creations including women’s suits, handbags, and perfumes. From her hobby of making hats, she created a brand known for its simple yet sophisticated designs. Aside from commercial success, she is also known for her many lovers and controversial personal life. For more about this legendary style icon, here are the following facts:
1. “Coco” is a moniker from her brief career as a cabaret singer.
- She was born Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel. Bonheur means “happiness” in English.
- Her nickname was from the popular songs “Qui qu’a vu Coco” and “Ko Ko Ri Ko.”
2. She had humble beginnings.
- Her father was a street peddler who sold undergarments and work clothes while her mother was a laundrywoman at a poorhouse.
- Chanel and her sisters were sent to an orphanage after her mother’s death. She learned how to sew from the nuns who cared for her.
3. Her innovative and functional designs launched her to fame.
- Chanel’s breakthrough piece was a dress made of jersey cloth, a material mainly used in men’s underwear. She chose it for its low price and comfort.
- She rejected traditional confining garments, creating breathable and livable clothing for women. “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury,” she said.
4. She created enduring pieces which influence fashion today.
- She designed the first suits for women. The ensemble borrowed elements from men’s wear (such as pockets) and featured a fitted skirt which showed the ankles.
- Chanel associated the color black with chic instead mourning. She created the “little black dress,” evening wear that is both affordable and comfortable.
5. Her No. 5 perfume functioned as an invisible accessory.
- The first to feature a designer’s name, the fragrance was the “unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion… that heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure.”
- The name of the perfume comes from Chanel’s lucky number. It was launched on the fifth day of the fifth month in 1921.
6. She was suspected of being a Nazi collaborator.
- During World War II, Chanel was dating German military intelligence officer Hans Gunther von Dincklage.
- She was given special permission to live at the Hotel Ritz, the preferred residence of Germany’s upper military.
7. She never married.
- She started her business through collaborations with wealthy lovers, but never committed. She said, “I never wanted to weigh more heavily on a man than a bird.”
- After being with the Duke of Westminster for a decade, Chanel refused his marriage proposal. She wished to retain her identity as the one and only Chanel instead of being one of the many Duchesses of Westminster.
8. The legend of Coco Chanel lives on.
- The Broadway musical “Coco” was based on her life and earned seven Tony nominations. It won for Best Featured Actor and Best Costume Design.
- Today the company is privately held by the Wertheimer family, with designer Karl Lagerfeld at the reins. The Chanel brand continues to make millions in sales.
Because of her timeless designs, Coco Chanel herself has also become timeless in the world of fashion. Her design philosophy of comfort and luxury continues to make her creations one of the most popular and desired all over the world.
What’s your most favorite Coco Chanel product or design?