Coco Chanel

Lindsey Miller

The Beginning

Coco Chanel was born on August 19th in 1883 in Saumur, France. With the death of her parents at twelve years old, Chanel was forced to grow up in an orphanage. After learning how to sew, she left the orphanage when she was eighteen, in the hope of finding a job. While singing part time at cafés, Chanel found work with a local tailor. She lived with a wealthy army officer for a few years. It was at his chateau that she discovered her talent for creativity. With the help of a rich industrialist, Chanel set up her first shop. By the end of her nine year relationship with him, Chanel was not only financially stable, but she also owned several boutiques in various cities of France.

Established Chanel

Chanel began to establish herself throughout France in the 1920s. Her loose jersey became an instant hit, as it was more practical to women than the stiff corsets they were use to wearing. With her modern bob haircut and trendy clothing, Chanel was seen as a style icon. The production and distribution of her perfume Chanel No. 5 began after she met Pierre Werthheimer. Werthheimer was the director of a renowned perfume and cosmetics house called Bourgeois. Just two years after meeting, he and Chanel successfully produced, marketed, and distributed the first perfume sold worldwide. Just one year later, Chanel debuted her famous cardigan jacket and little black dress.

Chanel Comeback

In 1954, Chanel began designing collections of luxury clothing, even though male designers, such as Christian Dior and Jacque Fath, now dominated the fashion industry. By saying that women should rebel against the ‘illogical’ aesthetics brought by male couturiers, Chanel opposed male authority. At seventy years old, she reopened her fashion house. Chanel also designed a new collection that became extremely popular in Britain and the United States. On January 10, 1971 Chanel died at the age of eighty-eight.