Oscar Wilde created the famous aphorism: “Fashion is what you wear yourself. Everything that others wear is unfashionable. ” However, in the mid-twenties this phrase was denied by Coco Chanel, stating that a small black dress might be considered fashionable. The authority of the Frenchwoman was so high that many women of different estates and wealth were immediately dressed in mourning attire, becoming more attractive. Such a determined position made Chanel a world celebrity, and her find became a symbol of elegance, taste and luxury.

So the new term – “Chanel style” – came into fashion. She herself said this about fashion: “First of all – it’s style. Fashion goes out of fashion, and style – never! “. Cutting models Coco was simple, she herself said that you must ruthlessly get rid of all that is superfluous. And the biography of the Great Mademoiselle, as Chanel was nicknamed by the French, is rather confusing and multifaceted. And she herself was not shy to embellish and cut the story of her life.


Koko’s childhood from biographers is hidden in the fog. It is known that the future legend was born on August 19, 1883 in the west of France in the city of Saumur. Father Coco traded at fairs, and the girl was the result of the extramarital affair of a man with a certain Jeanne Devol. Over time, she died in poverty, and Gabriel’s father actually threw, giving at 12 years of age in a shelter at the monastery. Twenty-year-old girl nuns were assigned to work in a knitted store in the city of Moulin.

There, young Gabrielle quickly earned the respect of customers and owners – Chanel excellently sewed clothes for children and women. And in her spare time she sang in a cafe. There she sang a fashionable at that time hit “Who saw Coco at the Trocadero?”. So her nickname was born – Coco. Mademoiselle herself preferred not to remember her career as a singer, offering her own version of the origin of the nickname. According to her, the father adored the little Gabriel, calling the chicken (“coco” in French).

Chanel herself all her life hated her own origin and poverty. That is why she developed such a stormy activity, striving to achieve success with all her might. Koko dreamed of forgetting about humiliation, unhappy childhood, loneliness and emptiness. That’s why she in 1905 drew attention to Etienne Balsan. The young bourgeois seemed to represent a luxury and a holiday, the girl thought that this was her destiny. Koko settled in his castle, completely immersed in idleness – until noon lying around in bed and reading books. However, Balzan himself quickly realized that such a chosen one was not for him.

A new friend of Chanel was the young Englishman Arthur Capele, nicknamed “The Boy”. He advised the Frenchwoman he liked to open his own hat shop, promising even financial assistance. So Coco moved from the castle to the bachelor apartment of her young man in Paris. Then she quickly got down to business – her clients were at first the former mistresses of Capel, and then their girlfriends. The affairs of the young hatter went up the hill, in 1910 she borrowed money and on the street Cambon opened her own studio with a loud name “Chanel’s Fashion”. Soon the street will be known to the whole world, for half a century inextricably linked with the name of Mademoiselle Coco.

Hat boutiques, although successful, could not satisfy Koko. She herself dreamed of creating her own line of women’s clothing. Only there were no rights to create dresses for Chanel – she was not a professional dressmaker, so the authorities would immediately stop illegal competition. Then Koko found another way out – she began to sew dresses from jersey, although earlier this cloth was only for men’s underwear. This step brought her capital. Similar images were born and other revolutionary dresses from Chanel.

In her creation she did not come up with difficulties, but simply simplified. Chanel did not draw a model and did not sew them, she simply put the fabric on the model and immediately with hairpins created from the shapeless mass the desired silhouette. So Coco meteor burst into the world of fashion, attracting everyone’s attention.She created a new style, previously for women simply unthinkable – sports suits. Chanel was not afraid to appear on the beaches in a sailor suit and tight skirt.

Soon, Koko will create a dressing without any belt and ornaments, and the bust and the female bends will be hidden with male severity. Thanks to Chanel appeared low waist, women’s pants, beach pajamas and dress-shirt. The style of the designer was simple, practical, but at the same time elegant. Interestingly, although she herself introduced fashion into women’s pants, she herself rarely wore them. In her opinion, this piece of clothing will still look best on men.


In 1917, thanks to Chanel, a fashion for short, “masculine” hairstyles appeared. Koko knew that it was easiest for them to take care of. As a result, the fashion designer once just cut off her braids and went out into the light. Curious, she simply explained that in her house a lighted gas column scorched her hair. But until then it was believed that the ladies simply have to wear long hair.

But in 1919, the world of Chanel overturned – Arthur Capele died in a car accident. Tragedy strongly influenced the woman. They say that it was under the influence of this misfortune that Chanel introduced black into fashion, as if forcing all women to mourn their beloved. Koko herself did not have the right to mourn – she was not married to Arthur. At first the dresses were sewn from the now forgotten crepe-marken, they were straight cut with narrow sleeves and to the knees.

The length of the skirt was revolutionary, Koko believed that it was not worthwhile to raise a dress, because few women could boast of their legs. A small black dress quickly acquired a cult status, becoming a real symbol. Until now, there are more and more new interpretations of this work Chanel. It seems that her creation will never go out of fashion.

In 1920, Koko opened the Model House in Biarritz, where she met a Russian emigre, Prince Dmitry Pavlovich. Although their novel was short, it marked the appearance in the work of Chanel of the Russian period. Thanks to her lover, Koko contributed to the collection details of Russian folk costumes. But the most important thing was that the prince introduced her to the chemist-perfumer Ernesto Bo, whose father served the emperor. The meeting turned out to be a landmark meeting. After a year of long work and numerous experiments, Ernest presented “perfume for a woman who smells like a woman.”

The composition of the famous synthesized perfume included just 80 components. The spirits did not repeat, as was customary, the smell of some flower. The golden liquid was poured into a crystal rectangular vial. Uncomplicated form and a modest label were opposed to traditional pretentious decisions. The success of the perfume has survived the creators for a long time, and today “Chanel No. 5” is the best selling perfume on the planet.

And in the early 1920s, Chanel also started jewelry. She taught me how to mix natural stones and rhinestones in one ornament. In those years, Coco was in the heart of the Parisian cultural life. The woman became a part of bohemia – she went to the ballet, communicated with Picasso, Diaghilev, Stravinsky, Cocteau. Many men were surprised to find in the famous modeler an intelligent woman with original thinking.

Men attracted her appearance, strong character, purposefulness. Gradually the Russian period came to naught, and in the life of Koko itself a new man appeared – the Duke of Westminster. The novel with him stretched out for a long 14 years. For Mademoiselle herself, this connection was unusually long, thanks to her the Frenchwoman plunged into a new world for herself – the English aristocracy.

In the new homes where she found herself thanks to the duke, Coco saw her long-awaited shelter. As a result, Chanel has become increasingly frequent in England, traveling on her chosen sailboat. In the estate of the Duke on the weekend was going to be a beau monde, among fifty guests there was Winston Churchill himself and his wife. The influence of England was reflected in the creativity of the fashion designer. She managed to make the English masculinity feminine.In the collections there were many tweeds, blouses and waistcoats in stripes, sports coats and waterproof raincoats. Gabriel fell in love with the English like sweaters.

They say that Coco would certainly become the duke’s wife if she gave birth to his heir. While the Englishman was raging passion, he wanted it. One in 1928, Koko was already 45, doctors could not help fulfill the dream. After the Duke’s marriage to the other, the English period also ended. Mademoiselle again devoted herself to work with her head. She was at the zenith of glory, success accompanied all her undertakings. Even for men, Coco continued to enjoy success.

In the autumn of 1939, Chanel closed all her businesses, losing her desire to work. After the war, they tried to detain her, accusing him of having a German attache. The new French authorities agreed to release Koko to freedom in exchange for a promise to leave the country. So, for a good ten years Chanel left the profession, living in a quiet Switzerland until 1953.

By that time there was already a new generation of women of fashion who knew Chanel only by her spirits. Koko explained her return with a banal longing for the case. Moreover, she did not like the work of modern Parisian designers. The new collection of Chanel caused resentment and shock, saying that the fashion designer did not show anything new. But eternal elegance was Coco’s trump card. The revenge was taken just a year later – a slightly reworked collection was triumphantly met in the US. The fashion girls again began to dress in Chanel’s dresses, and she herself became the tycoon who runs the largest House in the world fashion.


Despite the many great people who lived and worked next to Chanel, at the end of her life she was left alone. Koko died on January 10, 1971, and next to her was only the maid. At that time, the fashionable empire earned $ 160 million a year, and Chanel herself found only three outfits in the wardrobe, but very stylish, as she herself, of course, believed. Buried Chanel in Lausanne, where she felt protected. Today the French company produces and sells clothing and luxury goods, having its own 147 boutiques around the world. The main designer is Karl Lagerfeld, and the company’s turnover is more than one billion dollars.

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