Anyone today can instantly recognize the iconic interlocked “CC,” but do you know the full story behind the woman responsible for revolutionizing the little black dress?
In 1883, Coco Chanel was born in France.
At the age of 12, her mother died. This split up her family, sending her and two sisters to live and work at a home for orphans and abandoned girls. In this home she learned how to sew. After turning 18, she left the orphanage and struggled to find work as a seamstress.
She spent time as a singer and performer at a small venue, which served as a nightclub and restaurant.
In 1908, with the help of her partner, she opened her first shop and originally designed hats. She recruited her aunt and sister to model her designs.
On a daily basis, they could be seen parading through the town advertising Chanel’s creations. The earnings from her popular fragrance Chanel No. 5 allowed her to purchase an entire building in one of the most fashionable districts in Paris.
In 1931, she was introduced to Nicolas Goldwyn. He offered Chanel a promising proposition.
For a million dollars he would bring her to Hollywood twice a year to design costumes for MGM stars. Although she didn’t gain the reception she hoped for, it put her name on the map even more. Soon after, she was receiving orders from all over the globe.
In early January of 1971, after a tumultuous career, at the age of 87, she went out in real Chanel style. Her coffin was covered with white flowers, orchids, azaleas, and few red roses. Her last words were to her maid Celine, “You see, this is how you die.”
She was far beyond her time as a businesswoman and fashion designer. She conducted tests with models making sure that they could perform daily activities comfortably without revealing too much. Her aesthetic redefined what makes a woman truly fashionable. Chanel’s trademark look was a look of youthful ease and liberated physicality.