Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Coco Chanel

When people around the world think of France, they think of fashion. Coco Chanel was born there, and that’s where she started her career.

Coco Chanel’s real name was Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel. She claimed a birthday of 1893, with a birthplace of Auvergne. But, she was actually born on August 19, 1883 in Saumur. Her mother worked in a poorhouse, which was an institution where poor people were maintained with public funds, where Coco was born. Then, at the age of six her mother died leaving her and her five siblings in her father’s care. Coco survived her impoverished childhood and strict convent education. These difficulties of her early life inspired her to pursue an extraordinarily different lifestyle. First, she tried singing, which is how she got the nickname “Coco”, and then she tried out being a milliner (a person who makes or sells women’s hats.)

She opened her first shop in Paris of 1913 with the help of two men she met while singing. It is here where she sold hats and garments. Her simple hats became very popular and were sold to women of society. Soon, she expanded to couture making jewelry and clothing, also working with jersey fabric to make the Chanel Suit along with the Chanel Jacket. For the first time in women’s fashion, because of the jersey suit, women showed their bare ankles in the street. The suit was not just a trendy fashion, but it was a fashion that fit a woman’s lifestyle. “I make fashion women can live in, feel comfortable in and look younger in,” Chanel had said. Also, her unique sense of style led her to create a famous perfume, Chanel No.5, which was the first designer brand perfume.

But then in 1939, she had to close the doors of her salon during the war with Germany. But during the war, the designer Christian Dior became successful and that made Chanel determined to fight back. Chanel’s amazing comeback collection of couture debuted in 1953. She updated many of her older designs, making more modern ones that caught the eye of wealthy women and celebrities.

Coco Chanel really revolutionized women’s fashion in the 20th century, by completely redesigning the way women dressed. Back then, women dressed very conservatively, and were thought to be less than men. It was Chanel who took her ideas of fashion, and showed the world these fascinating designs, and told people that sometimes when you take a piece of men’s clothing and feminize it, it will have an amazing result. She exhibited her clothing to the women in France first, and then expanded to show the whole world, with her designs becoming very popular. Chanel changed the way women look at clothes, and because of her hard work and what she did to the women’s fashion world, it has effected us greatly today.

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