Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel was not born into a glamorous childhood by any means. She was one of six children born to Albert and Jeanne Chanel, and was orphaned by the age of 12. It was at the orphanage where she learned the trade of a seamstress. At the turn of the 20th century, Chanel worked as a cabaret singer at a French cafe, where she gained the nickname "Coco." After an active social life and a number of affairs, Gabrielle Coco Chanel, along with the help of friend, Arthur "boy" Capel, opened her first shop (1910). Only five years later, in 1915, Chanel's simple shop had grown into a fashion-powerhouse. The same year she opened her first couture house, and began gaining great fame. In 1923, Chanel released No. 5, her signature fragrance (the first ever perfume to bear a designer's name). Although there are several rumors as to how she came up with the name, Chanel actually decided on No. 5 because it was the fifth perfume sample that she tried. Coco Chanel continued taking the fashion world by storm, bringing about several new fashion standards which can still be seen in all their glory on today's runways. After a brief retirement, Chanel returned to her design studio and continued making great strides in fashion until her death in 1971.
In 1983, Karl Lagerfeld was appointed Artistic Director at Chanel and took over the Chanel empire. He took the vision, style, class, and elegance of Chanel and helped usher it into the 21st century, and continues to amaze the world just as Coco Chanel did during her reign.
An Everlasting Contribution to the World of Fashion
Throughout her monumental life, Coco Chanel made countless contributions to the world of fashion. Almost singlehandedly, Chanel revolutionized the future of fashion. While many believe Hubert de Givenchy (who designed the costumes for the film Breakfast at Tiffany's) was the designer in charge of making the "Little Black Dress," a staple in every woman's wardrobe, it was actually Coco Chanel who gave us this wardrobe essential. When she first premiered the little black dress, Vogue began calling it the "New Uniform of the Modern Woman." Around the same time, Chanel also designed the famed Chanel Suit - a knee length skirt and boxy jacket. The Chanel Suit was, and remains to this day, one of the highly revered and respected articles of clothing worn by the most elite, wealthy, high-class women. Chanel then designed the Quilted Bag, a simple accessory that took the fashion world by storm, and is still considered one of the best bags available. While each of these mentioned designs are monumental fashion breakthroughs, they are all overshadowed by Coco Chanel's signature fragrance, Chanel No. 5. Since it's release, Chanel No. 5 has been the ultimate in high-class taste, and the classic run-to fragrance loved and adored by women around the world. In fact, Marilyn Monroe, upon being asked what she wore to bed answered, "Two drops of Chanel No. 5." The fragrance hasn't changed since it's release, and is still one of the best selling perfumes in the world. Though it is not confirmed, it is believed that a bottle of Chanel No. 5 is sold every 30 seconds.
Chanel's Fall 2007 Collection
Under the scrupulous direction of Karl Lagerfeld, the Chanel brand has continued to be one of the leading faces of style, and is expected to be so for generations to come. Here is a sample of the amazing work Lagerfeld premiered for Chanel's Fall 2007 Couture and Ready-to-Wear Collections.
The Linen Lounge Salutes Coco Chanel
Once a month, the Linen Lounge will feature a Spotlight review of a designer or brand. We will try to feature legendary designers, current designers, and eventually, we also hope to feature newer unknown designers. For our first Spotlight designer, we had to look through the greats in the fashion industry to find someone who made amazing strides, who put the utmost attention into detail and the highest level of craftsmanship into her work, and remained the epitome of sophistication. Chanel made some of the greatest advances in fashion design, and she really did revolutionize the industry in every sense of the word. Today's modern fashions look very reminiscent of fashion shows from the 40's and 50s, and it is more important than ever to remember the pioneers who made such great contributions. So when we were looking for our first Spotlight designer, Coco Chanel seemed the obvious choice. The Linen Lounge is very proud to honor such an extraordinary visionary.
“Elegance is not the prerogative of those who have just escaped from adolescence, but of those who have already taken possession of their future.” - Coco Chanel