A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.
Coco Chanel (née Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel) was born on this day in 1883– or 1893 as Chanel later claimed– in Saumur, France.
This style icon known for luxury had a very unfortunate childhood. Her mother died when she was very young. Consequently, her father, who made his living as a peddler, sent her to an orphanage where she learned how to sew.
Before she became a designer, however, she was a singer who became known by her nickname, “Coco.” In her 20s, Chanel was in a relationship with Etienne Balsan, and then his friend, Arthur “Boy” Capel. Her relationships with these men helped give Chanel her start in fashion.
Chanel claims the turning point in her career was when she fashioned a dress out of jersey on a cold day. Jersey had been previously used primarily for men’s fashion. However, Chanel’s jersey dress piqued the interest of many women who asked her where she got the dress. Since then, Chanel has been known for her chic, simple, and comfortable designs that have revolutionized fashion by incorporating elements from menswear. And one cannot forget her famous perfume “Chanel No. 5” which is still popular today.
Chanel was born into poverty, but overcame it through her creativity and connections. Although rags-to-riches stories are popular today, Chanel lied about her past because of her era’s stigma of poverty.
Coco Chanel was no doubt a talented and iconic designer, but many people tend to glorify her and overlook the fact that she was a Nazi sympathizer. That’s right. During World War II, Chanel became involved with a Nazi officer. She lost a lot of face for this, as her relationship was seen as a betrayal of France (part of France was, of course, occupied by Germany at the time). She had already shut down her business due to the depression and outbreak of war, but fled to Switzerland for a couple of years as a sort of self-imposed exile.
Chanel returned to fashion in the 70s and eventually achieved great success. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Did you know that Chanel was a Nazi sympathizer or that she was born into poverty? Do you wear Chanel?