Coco Chanel

Gigi Harris

Coco Chanel: Bio

On August 19, 1883, in Saumur France, Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel was born. Chanel’s mother died when she was young so her father sent her and her sister to the catholic monastery orphanage, where the nuns taught her to sew. She became talented at sewing and practiced often. When she left the orphanage at 18 she sang at bars and restaurants featuring the song “Coco”. There she was given a nickname which lasted her a lifetime. She moved in with the rich Etienne Balsan, as his mistress, but used his wealth to begin making hats.

She opened her first hat store in 1910, at Paris’s Rue Cambon. Her stores spread to Deauville and Biarritz. Shortly after she began making clothes. She used lots of elements from the male wardrobe for her designs including the first women's suits, with tight pencil skirts and embroidery. She also designed the first “little black dress”. Before then black was a color of mourning and sadness but she revolutionized it to a stylish sleek evening wear. She used many male jerseys as a base for her designs with many other women loved and asked for one of their own. She made clothing both stylish and comfortable by being one of the first to not use corsets in her tops and dresses. She became famous for her amazing creations and in 1920 she launched her first perfume “Chanel no. 5”. She said “is the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion that heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure,”.

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Video Questions:

1. What new garments and ideas did Coco introduce to women's fashion, what wardrobe were these new garments inspired by.

2. What where some of her trademark garments.

3. What are some things Coco did differently from other designers.

Impact on Future Fashion

Coco had a large impact of women fashion, still today. She created and made designs both stylish and comfortable. She reshaped the standers of femininity with her suits and trousers, and made the timeless little black dress. She changed the future of fashion which still impacts us today.