Oscar Wilde created the famous aphorism: “Fashion is what you wear yourself. Such a decisive position made Chanel a world celebrity, and her find became a symbol of elegance, taste and luxury.
This is how a new term came into fashion - "Chanel style". And she herself did not hesitate to embellish and tailor the story of her life.
Coco's childhood from biographers is hidden in a fog. It is known that the future legend was born on August 19, 1883 in the west of France in the city of Saumur. Coco's father traded at fairs, and the girl was the result of a man's extramarital affair with a certain Jeanne Devol. Over time, she died in poverty, and Gabriel herself was essentially abandoned by her father, giving her at the age of 12 to an orphanage at a monastery. A twenty-year-old nun was assigned to work in a knitwear shop in the city of Moulins.
There, young Gabrielle quickly earned the respect of customers and owners - Chanel perfectly sewed clothes for children and women. And in her free time, she sang in a cafe. There she sang the hit, fashionable at the time, "Who saw Coco at the Trocadero?" And so her nickname was born - Coco. Mademoiselle herself preferred not to remember her singing career, offering her version of the origin of the nickname. According to her, her father adored little Gabrielle, calling him a chicken ("coco" in French).
Chanel herself all her life hated her own origin and poverty. That is why she developed such a vigorous activity, striving with all her might to achieve success. Coco dreamed of forgetting about humiliation, unhappy childhood, loneliness and emptiness. That is why she drew attention to Etienne Balsan in 1905. The young bourgeois seemed to personify luxury and celebration, it seemed to the girl that this was her destiny. Koko settled in his castle, completely immersed in idleness - until noon, lying in bed and reading books. However, Balsan himself quickly realized that such a chosen one was not for him.
The young Englishman Arthur Capel, nicknamed "The Boy", became Chanel's new friend. He advised a Frenchwoman he liked to open her own hat store, even promising financial assistance. So Coco moved from the castle to her boyfriend's bachelor apartment in Paris. Then she quickly got down to business - her clients were first Capel's former mistresses, and then their girlfriends. Business of the young hatter went uphill, in 1910 she borrowed money and on the street Cambon opened her own atelier with the loud name "Chanel Fashion". Soon the street will become known to the whole world, for half a century it has been inseparably associated with the name of Mademoiselle Coco.
The hat boutiques, while successful, could not satisfy Coco. She herself dreamed of creating her own line of women's clothing. However, Chanel did not have the rights to create dresses - she was not a professional dressmaker, so the authorities would have immediately stopped illegal competition. Then Coco found another way out - she began to sew dresses from jersey, although earlier this fabric was used exclusively for men's underwear. This step brought her capital. Other revolutionary dresses from Chanel were born in a similar way.
In her creation, she did not invent difficulties, but simply simplified. Chanel did not draw models and did not sew them, she simply applied fabric to the model and immediately created the desired silhouette from the shapeless mass with hairpins. So Coco burst into the fashion world like a meteor, attracting everyone's attention. She created a new style, previously unthinkable for women - tracksuits. Chanel was not afraid to appear on the beaches in a sailor suit and a tight skirt.
Soon, Coco will create a dress without a belt or jewelry at all, and the bust and female curves will be hidden with masculine severity. Chanel introduced a low waist, women's pants, beach pajamas and a shirt dress. The fashion designer's style was simple, practical, but at the same time elegant. Interestingly, although Coco herself introduced the fashion for women's trousers, she herself rarely wore them. In her opinion, this piece of clothing will still look best on men.
In 1917, thanks to Chanel, there was a fashion for short, "men's" hairstyles. Koko understood that the easiest way to look after them was. As a result, the fashion designer once simply cut off her braids and went out. To the curious, she simply explained that in her house a gas water heater burned her hair. But until that moment it was believed that ladies were simply obliged to wear long hair.
But in 1919, the world of Chanel turned upside down - Arthur Capel died in a car accident. The tragedy greatly affected the woman. They say that it was under the influence of this misfortune that Chanel introduced black into fashion, as if forcing all women to mourn for their beloved. Coco herself had no right to mourn - she was not married to Arthur. At first, dresses were sewn from the now forgotten crepe-morocin, they were straight cut with narrow sleeves and knee length.
The length of the skirt was revolutionary, Koko believed that it was not worth lifting the dress higher, since few women can boast of their legs. The little black dress quickly gained cult status, becoming a real symbol. Until now, more and more new interpretations of this work by Chanel appear. It seems that her creation will never go out of style.
In 1920, Coco opened a Model House in Biaritz, where she met a Russian émigré, Prince Dmitry Pavlovich. Although their romance was short, it marked the emergence of the Russian period in Chanel's work. Thanks to her lover, Koko added details of Russian folk costumes to the collection. But the most important thing was that the prince introduced her to the chemist-perfumer Ernesto Bo, whose father served the emperor. The meeting was significant. After a year of long work and numerous experiments, Ernest presented "a perfume for a woman that smells like a woman."
The famous synthesized perfume includes 80 components at once. The perfume did not repeat, as was customary, the smell of a flower. The golden liquid was poured into a rectangular crystal bottle. Uncomplicated form and modest label were contrasted with traditional artsy solutions. The success of the perfume survived the creators for a long time, and today "Chanel No. 5" is the best-selling perfume on the planet.
And in the early 1920s, Chanel also took up jewelry. She taught how to mix natural stones and rhinestones in one piece. In those years, Coco was at the heart of Parisian cultural life. The woman became part of bohemia - she went to ballet, talked with Picasso, Diaghilev, Stravinsky, Cocteau. Many men were surprised to find in the famous fashion designer an intelligent woman with original thinking.
Men were attracted by her appearance, strong character, determination. Gradually, the Russian period came to naught, and in the life of Coco herself a new man appeared - the Duke of Westminster. The affair with him stretched out for 14 long years. For Mademoiselle herself, such a relationship turned out to be unusually long, thanks to her, the Frenchwoman plunged into a new world for herself - the English aristocracy.
In the new houses where she found herself thanks to the duke, Koko saw her long-awaited shelter. As a result, Chanel began to visit England more and more often, to travel on the yacht of her chosen one. Beau monde gathered at the Duke's estate for the weekends, and Winston Churchill and his wife were among the fifty guests. The influence of England was reflected in the work of the fashion designer. She managed to make English masculinity feminine. The collections include a lot of tweeds, striped blouses and vests, sports coats and waterproof raincoats. Gabrielle, like the British, fell in love with sweaters.
They say that Coco would certainly have become the wife of a duke if she had given birth to an heir. While passion raged in the Englishman, he wanted it. Alone in 1928, Coco was already 45, the doctors could not help the dream come true. After the duke married another, the English period ended. Mademoiselle again devoted herself headlong to work. She was at the zenith of fame, success accompanied all her endeavors. Even with men, Coco continued to enjoy success.
In the fall of 1939, Chanel closed all her factories, losing her desire to work. After the war, they tried to detain her, accusing her of having an affair with the German attaché. The new French authorities agreed to release Coco in exchange for a promise to leave the country. So, for a good ten years, Chanel left the profession, living in quiet Switzerland until 1953.
By that time, a new generation of women of fashion had appeared who knew Chanel only by her perfume. Coco explained her return with banal longing for the case. Moreover, she did not like the work of contemporary Parisian designers. Chanel's new collection caused outrage and shock, they said that the designer did not show anything new. However, timeless elegance was Coco's trump card. The rematch was taken just a year later - the slightly revised collection was greeted with triumph in the United States. Fashionistas again began to dress in dresses from Chanel, and she herself turned into a tycoon who runs the largest House in world fashion.
Despite the many great people who lived and worked next to Chanel, at the end of her life she remained lonely. Coco died on January 10, 1971, and only the maid was next to her. At that time, the fashion empire earned 160 million dollars a year, and only three outfits were found in Chanel's wardrobe, but very stylish, as she herself, of course, believed. Chanel is buried in Lausanne, where she felt protected. Today, the French company manufactures and sells clothing and luxury goods, with its own 147 boutiques around the world. The chief designer is Karl Lagerfeld, and the company's turnover is over a billion dollars.