by: Cara Panarisi
Who was Coco Chanel?
Gabrielle Chanel, most commonly known today as Coco Chanel, was an extreme fashion designer who created a new availability of clothing for women in the 1920's and later time periods. In the 1920's, she was most known for the introduction of the simplistic additions to women's clothing. In the 1950's, she showed women that they can free themselves from the tight clothing trends and the constant usage of a long skirt and go with a more simple, yet elegant, look. Her fashion trends are still in use to this day and inspiring fashion designers all around the world.
Childhood and Background
Coco was born on August 19, 1883 in a small city in France. Coco and her family lived in a poor house that was located in this city. Her family consisted of her mother, father and four siblings. While her mom became pregnant with another child, she developed serious health problems and ended up losing not only the infant, but eventually her own life in February of 1985. Coco's father abandoned her and her siblings after this tragedy occurred, which then placed her and her two sisters in a boarding school and her brothers became child laborers to a farm family.
When Coco was old enough to leave the boarding school, she began working in a local boutique as an assistant and a seamstress. The way she ended up getting the nickname, "Coco" was when she was singing at a coffee shop about a poor girl who lost her dog Coco. The people in the crowd began to shout out "Coco, coco!" The name stuck with her for the rest of her life and years after her death. Coco's first official business opened in 1909 and that's when her fashion career really began to expand and it grew from there. She helped the expansion of the idea that clothing could contain simple design and could still be worn with grace and confidence. She also showed women that they can wear the same thing men can wear.
Coco and Capel
Arthur Edward "Boy" Capel was the boy Coco fell in love with. Although they both had various relationships other than one another, her feelings never changed towards him. He passed away due to an automobile accident. Coco never ended up marrying anyone or having children.
Coco Chanel making a statement by wearing trousers as a woman, not a man.
The Impact of Coco in the 1920's
Before the 1920's, women were expected to have a specific image to live up to involving not only what they wore, but how they acted. Always at home cooking meals for the family and never working outside of the house. They even wore tight, uncomfortable corsets and long skirts. Coco broke these trends by developing and reinventing women's clothing to make it more comfortable to move around. Specific additions included trousers and suits for women. This was a huge deal considering women have never witnessed anything like it.
Evolution of the Women's Style
This picture shows a timeline of how women's style changed through the early-mid 1900's.
Mini Bio: Coco Chanel
What made Coco Chanel close down her shops in 1939 and why? Did she ever make a come back?