Chanel is among the most illustrious fashion houses in France. Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, the designer behind the label, worked hard to establish herself. Born to parents of little means, Chanel was sent to a strict convent school after her mother died. She was only 12 years old at the time. It was at the convent school that she learned how to sew. After she was done with school, she supported herself with the money she earned as a café singer, and it was from her life on stage that she got the nickname “Coco.”
Chanel used some of her money to design clothes. Unable to afford expensive fabric, she used cheap jersey cloth which was usually used to make underwear at the time. However, Chanel had talent and she transformed the fashion industry with her original designs. Chanel disliked the lavish, opulent outfits for women that were trending at the time, and she challenged them by designing clothes that were understated, elegant, and classy.
“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” – Coco Chanel
Eventually, her work caught the eye of Arthur Capel, who saw potential in her and helped her acquire the shop at 31 Rue Cambon in Paris. With the war breaking out and women having to go to work in factories, Chanel’s simple and practical clothes became extremely popular. She is credited as the key designer behind the “little black dress,” and her signature perfume, Chanel No. 5, was made famous by Marilyn Monroe and is still popular today.
Coco Chanel rose from her modest beginning to create a fashion empire that changed the world. Today, there are over 300 Chanel boutiques worldwide and the company has expanded to incorporate handbags, jewelry, and accessories. The legendary brand has been marketed by top celebrities and is among the top haute couture labels of all time. See Keira Knightley, Nicole Kidman, and Blake Lively’s celebrity ads for Chanel below followed by some chic pieces from the 2012 collection!