Coco Chanel

Biography (1883–1971)

Early Life

Coco Chanel also known as Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel was born on August 19, 1883, in Saumur, France although she then later claimed that her real date of birth was 1893. She was raised in an orphanage where she was taught to sew. Before opening her first clothes shop in 1910 she had a brief career as a singer.Later in the 1920's she launched her first perfume and eventually introduced the Chanel suit and the little black dress.


Concert halls and cafes is where Gabrielle adopted her nickname given to her by the local soldiers who went to watch her


During the 1920's Chanel became the first designer to create loose women's jerseys, traditional used for men's underwear, creating a relaxed style for women ignoring the stiff corseted look of the time. Soon they became very popular with the clients. During this time she launched the fragrance Chanel No. 5 which remains popular to this day. Two years later, Pierre Wertheimer became her business partner and reputedly her lover. The Werheimers continue to control the perfume company today. In 1995 Chanel launched her signature cardigan jacket, and the following year matched its success with her little black dress.


Chanel closed her couture house in 1939 with the outbreak of World War 2 but returned in 1954 to introduce her highly copied suit design which was a collarless, braid-trimmed cardigan jacket with a graceful skirt. She also introduced bell-bottomed pants and other innovations, while always retaining a clean classic look.

Chanel's Death

Coco Chanel worked until her death in 1917 at the age of 88, spending her last moments in the style she had become accustomed to at her opulent private apartment in The Ritz. Karl Lagerfeld had been chief designer of Chanel's fashion house since 1982. His ability to continuously mine the Chanel archive for inspiration testifies to the importance of Coco's contribution to the world of fashion.

1920's Fashion

Women fashion experienced dramatic changes following the end of the first world war in a period often referred to as the "roaring 20's" the era of the "flapper". Women dressing in the new and colorful fabrics echoed the joy felt by a war weary population following hostilities.1920's dresses were lighter and brighter and shorter than ever before.The popular trend toward silk and rayon reflected taste for luxury during this time.

Influencing fashion at this time

Coco Chanel revolutionized the way women wore clothes and paved a new way for the fashion brand, capitalizing in the changing times she was living in and her status as a fashion icon.