Coco Chanel: From Clothing Scraps to High Fashion

Coco Chanel - wealthy woman highlights

Who is she?

Coco Chanel was a French fashion designer and businesswoman. She’s the founder of the iconic Chanel brand.

She is the only fashion designer on Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

Coco Chanel’s Story

Gabrielle Chanel was born in a poor house and lived a nomadic lifestyle with her family. Her mother died when she was young, and the daughters were sent to a convent with an orphanage. It was there that Gabrielle learned to sew. She started by making doll clothes from scraps of nuns’ skirts.

Using her sewing skills from the convent, she began as a simple seamstress. She also sung in a cabernet frequented by cavalry officers. It’s said that Gabrielle acquired the name Coco from her nights singing, often with the song “Who Has Seen Coco?”

From there Chanel embraced affairs with men, but never married. She began designing hats, and what started as a diversion evolved into a commercial enterprise. In 1910, she became a licensed hat maker and opened a boutique. Her work attracted a theatre actress, who wore her hats and made them popular.

In 1913, Chanel opened another boutique, where she introduced deluxe casual clothing – hats, jackets, sweaters, and the sailor blouse. The fashions were constructed of surprising fabrics, like jersey and tricot. At the time this was primarily used for men’s underwear.

Chanel’s 3rd location was established close to wealthy Spanish clients. After one year, the business proved so lucrative that Chanel paid off the loan she acquired to start her business.

In 1922, Chanel was introduced to a businessman interested in selling Chanel No. 5 in his department store. For only 10 percent, Chanel licensed her name and withdrew from the business operations. But she then worked for more than twenty years to gain back control over the name.

Chanel’s rise marked the end of the corseted fashions women wore at the time. Women no longer had to endure the constraints of years past.

“The Chanel trademark look was of youthful ease, liberated physicality, and unencumbered sportive confidence.”

3 Incredible Quotes from Coco Chanel

“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.”

Chanel refused to conform to the societal rules of the 20th century and changed fashion forever by transforming style and fabrics.

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”

Chanel owned who she was, and wasn’t afraid of judgment.

“My life didn’t please me, so I created my life.”

“Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.”

“Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.”

Chanel knew that mastery is achieved by getting rid of everything that’s not essential.

And my personal favorite…

“I only drink Champagne on two occasions, when I am in love and when I am not.”


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