Coco Chanel was a French fashion designer and founder of the Coco Chanel brand and style. She was born on 19 August 1883 in Saumur, France, where her father worked as a wine merchant. Coco’s mother, Jeanne Devolle, died when Coco was 6 years old which forced Coco to grow up very quickly. Coco did not have an easy childhood after this tragic event – she learned at a young age how to cook for herself and two adults with the limited resources that were available in her home town.
After Coco’s father passed away during Coco’s teenage years she was left orphaned along with an older sister who promptly sent Coco off to live with their aunt Adrienne who lived in Aubazine, a convent in the French countryside. Coco Chanel left Aubazine 8 years later to live in Paris with her Great Aunt who was the head mistress of the Montessori school Coco attended during this time. Coco’s modeling career began shortly after she moved to Paris, when Coco dropped out of school at age 15. She had become a seamstress for Madam Adrien and ensured that she wore the latest designs by Lanvin, Worth, Doucet, Fath etc.
Coco Chanel developed her signature style of dress over time – she always favored simplicity but it wasn’t until after World War I where Coco really started to make a name for herself within society circles because of her creative use of jersey fabrics to create outfits that were both comfortable and flattering. Coco Chanel’s designs were favored by many well-known women of high society, including Coco’s lifelong friend named Misia Sert. Coco Chanel designed the costumes for the Ballets Russes which was a ballet company run by Sergei Diaghilev and also designed costumes for several plays in Paris during this time as well.
Coco Chanel earned a fortune from her design house but it wasn’t until 1922 that Coco opened up her first store on 31 Rue De Tilsitt with the support of her former lover Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage, who became Coco’s business manager after Coco had him kick out Coco’s longtime love interest Arthur Capel because of his inability to contribute to Coco financially or provide Coco with the life Coco deserved to live. Coco Chanel once said, “I design for free movement, not confinement. ” Coco Chanel used jersey fabrics in many of her designs because Coco believed that it allowed women to move freely.
Coco also designed the little black dress which was first introduced in 1926 and this became Coco’s most iconic piece of clothing – Coco had stated that she “started this when all of the others were still wearing colored dresses”. Coco Chanel died on 10 January 1971 (aged 87). Although more than fifty motion pictures have been produced featuring the life of Coco Chanel there is only one authorized film produced about Coco’s life called Coco Before Chanel starring Audrey Tautou as Coco Chanel.
Coco Chanel had not only a good influence on fashion, but also on women and their lives in general. Coco Chanel was born Gabrielle Coco Chanel, on August 19 1905 in Saumur, France. Coco’s mother Jeanne Devolle worked at a military orphanage and Coco was raised with four siblings: Julia-Berthe, Caroline-Marie, Anais, and Louis-Auguste Jr. Unfortunate things happened to Coco during her childhood; when she was twelve years old Coco suffered from rheumatic fever which caused her to be bedridden for an entire year.
Then when Coco was thirteen she witnessed the death of her father Louis-Auguste Chanel, who died of pneumonia and pleurisy, Coco was devastated by this and it left her bedridden for six months. Coco Chanel’s childhood circumstances turned Coco into an independent and free-spirited woman who would soon become one of the most memorable names in fashion history. Coco started to work at age 17; she worked as a seamstress and milliner, making hats in a shop owned by dressmaker Monsieur Carven. Soon Coco opened up her own millinery shop because of an unhappy customer (Mrs. Devenue) and Coco helped restore her lost hat.
Coco then started designing clothes for womens’ outfits which became very popular, eventually Coco Chanel made several outfits that were worn by actress Eleonora Duse. Then Coco opened up another shop called Coco Chanel Modes and it became very successful. Coco traveled a lot for her business, Coco went to Spain, the United States, and throughout France, Coco was also a well known socialite of high society. Coco’s world famous “little black dress” became very popular during this time.
Coco Chanel ended up having trouble with her finances because Coco spent too much money on extravagant parties that she used as a way to advertise Coco Chanel modes. In order to stay afloat Coco took out loans from friends like Misia Sert who loan Coco 40,000 francs which helped Coco pay off debts. During World War I Coco worked in Red Cross hospitals helping wounded soldiers by making clothes for them, even though Coco was not a nurse Coco sent out over 3,000 pieces of clothes to the hospitals.
Coco Chanel even created a lingerie line called ‘Lingerie Coco’ for women who served in the war effort which were two bodysuits with a button down flap covering their crotch area and one long sleeve top and pant set. Coco’s efforts during the war made Coco an instant heroine among French citizens . Coco retired from fashion after World War I ended, Coco went on private vacations and traveled extensively across Europe for four years.
Coco was also known as a socialite around this time as well; she ordered food at Maxim’s restaurant without paying her bill once and having thousands of dollars worth of jewels stashed away in safety deposit boxes around Paris. Coco Chanel was a free spirit who lived life to the fullest. Coco’s socialite status came back to haunt Coco later on into her life however, Coco began having an affair with Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage.
Coco ended up running into some problems when she started associating herself with high-ranking Nazis during World War II. Coco was under constant surveillance by French police and British Intelligence because of Coco’s connection to the Germans . Coco claimed that she had no idea about any Nazi plots or anything like that; Coco claimed that she just wanted someone to go out with so Coco went out with this man named Hans Gunther von Dincklage who happened to be involved in all of Coco’s problems.
Coco Chanel even said that she was nothing more than Dincklage’s “escort girl. ” Coco’s friendship with these high-ranking Nazis landed Coco in hot water with the French, Coco ended up being arrested and had her villa ‘Bel Respiro’ seized by authorities. Coco Chanel had trouble gaining support during this time period because Coco was a well known drunk who had an affinity for saying: “I love men and they love me, but only those of great talent. I never went out with anyone who wasn’t important. ”