The Coco Chanel brand and her vintage couture fashions remain a popular fashion choice with many of today’s celebrities.
She is best known for her trademark boxy suits, the little black dress, and this famous quote. “It’s disgusting to walk around with millions around the neck because one happens to be rich. I only like fake jewelry…because it’s provocative.”
Born Gabrielle Bonheur on August 19, 1883, she and her sister were sent to a French orphanage by her father after her mother died. The nuns taught her to sew, a craft that would become her lifelong occupation.
She left the orphanage when she was eighteen and took the stage name Coco during her brief stint as a singer. She said it was a shortened version of cocotte, a french word for “kept woman.”
Her first fashion venture was as a milliner in Paris when she opened her first shop in 1910. Her first clothing success began with a simple jersey dress and she was later quoted as saying, “My fortune is built on that old jersey that I’d put on because it was cold in Deauville.”
Although she accepted Samuel Goldwyn’s offer to employ her to design costumes for his MGM stars, she blatantly expressed her dislike for the movie making business and Hollywood in general. Her designs did not live up to the glamour of the 1930s era and the venture failed.
After much evidence was introduced alleging her pro-Nazi sympathies during World War II, Coco retreated to Switzerland in 1945, where she remained until the opening of her Paris Couture House in 1954. Parisians shunned her designs while the British and American clients became her most loyal fifties fashion fans.
Upon reopening her design house following WWII, she combined the hour glass silhouette popular during the fifties era with the equally popular tiers of ruffles. Her evening gowns were designed with heavy boning and net covered bodices which needed no undergarments.
But it was the white blouse and cropped jacket paired with a straight skirt that became Chanel’s trademark. A signature completed with her costume jewelry and the ever popular Chanel No. 5 perfume.
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A look which only added to the creation’s seductiveness and 50s style in general. A style that remains relevant in today’s market.