Powerful Women: Coco Chanel

Today, I was absolutely blown away by the Chanel S/S RTW 2013 show. I love how collection after collection, season after season Chanel sticks to it’s roots and maintains it’s classic and feminine aesthetic. Can you imagine how influential the woman to begin that aesthetic must be if her style is still being channeled a hundred years later?

Coco Chanel is one of the most powerful and influential women in history. Her inspirational story fueled the world famous fashion house, Chanel. The name Chanel, the double ‘C’ symbol, the quilted bags are all notorious and we wouldn’t have any of it without Miss Coco.

Born Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel in 1983, Coco did not have as pristine an upbringing as her luxury brand would suggest. Her parents were unwed and nomadic. After the death of her mother when Coco was 12, Coco and her sisters were sent to the convent of Aubazine where she lived a frugal and strictly disciplined life. During her stay at the convent, Coco learned sewing skills and found employment as a seamstress.

During her free time, Coco sang cabaret and it was while singing in clubs that she got her nickname “Coco”. While singing cabaret, Coco also met several wealthy men. Etienne Balsan was one in particular. Coco became his mistress when she was 23 and it was here that she was introduced to a “lavish” lifestyle. Coco, funded by a loan from one of her lovers, began designing and manufacturing hats and in 1910 opened her first boutique called Chanel Modes at 21 rue Cambon in Paris.

In 1913, Coco opened a boutique in Deauville where she sold high-end casual clothing. In 1915, she opened a boutique in Biarritz. The success of this shop was so great that she was able to reimburse her loaner, a decision she made on her own. From this point on Coco’s success only grew. She made excellent connections and her designs were seen on aristocrats and royalty in just a few short years.

Chanel is notorious for several great moves in fashion. She was one of the first designers to use jersey fabric in her designs and she made the wool skirt-suit, little black dress and the handbag iconic. Her brand is now one of the most luxurious and high-end fashion houses in the world and her legacy lives on.

Ally | Elite.

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