Many of us know Chanel as a clothing brand. Someone immediately recalls the famous perfume Chanel No. 5. Two intertwined letters “C” forever linked Coco Chanel with her love of fashion. Strong, courageous, sophisticated and independent. What was she and what price did she pay to change the world forever?
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Childhood without a future
Gabrielle Chanel was born in the small town of Saumur in France. She was named after the midwife who gave birth. She did not like to remember her childhood. My father was a merchant and rarely appeared at home. To his daughter’s questions, he replied that he was leaving for a better life and soon they would all be able to live like that. The mother was seriously ill, and when the girl was 11 years old, she died. So young Gabrielle, along with her sisters and brothers, ended up in a monastery shelter.
She was called a beggar and an orphan. She promised herself to become strong, proud and believed that then her father would definitely return, and they would leave this place forever, for a better life. But in return for her humility and perseverance, she received from him only a new white dress for the first communion. It was a sign that he remembered and would definitely come for them. So she thought.
In order for the pupils of the orphanage to have at least some kind of profession, they were taught sewing. Later, Gabrielle admits that she could not even think that she would return to sewing.
After the shelter, she and her sister ended up in a lingerie store. But, tired of the constant supervision and wanting more freedom, Gabrielle found a tiny room. She worked nights fixing clothes and performing in cabarets to feed herself somehow. It was after performing the songs “Ko Ko Ri Ko” and “Qui qu’a vu Coco” that Gabrielle got her nickname, Coco.
A fairy tale not created by her
During one of her performances, Coco Chanel met a French cavalryman, Etienne Balsan. It was thanks to him that she began to appear in higher circles and made acquaintances with people whom she had previously read only in book novels.
But the luxurious life disappointed her. She did not understand and could not accept what the fashionistas of that time wore. Tight corsets, countless feathers, hats with bouquets in the brim and long trains of dresses. All this created a feeling of discomfort and there was no question of any convenience. In addition, the figure of Coco herself was far from ideal, which was dictated by the fashion of those times.
“To become insanely attractive when you are flat, like a board with a boyish figure, small breasts and narrow hips, while beauties with luxurious bodies are in fashion … There was only one thing left: to change the fashion!”
To somehow escape from idleness, Gabrielle altered the hats of the guests who came to Etienne’s estate. But that was not enough. She wanted to become independent and prove to Etienne, and above all to herself, that she was worth something in this world. It was then that she decided to leave for Paris. Etienne was sure that she would not last even a couple of weeks. But he was wrong.
First steps in the world of fashion
In 1910, Coco Chanel opened her first hat shop. The simplicity and elegance of her models quickly won the hearts of Parisian fashionistas, and soon, the name Gabrielle Chanel was already known to many. When creating original hats and clothes, she preferred convenience, comfort and freedom of movement. And the whole of Paris seemed to be able to breathe deeply, replacing the draw-down lacing for dresses of a looser cut.
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Peak of fame
“Everything is in your hands, so they cannot be omitted” (Coco Chanel)
Gabrielle Chanel was never stopped by difficulties. If she believed that it was impossible to ride in a dress, then she created women’s trousers. She set a new movement for fashion, simply doing as she pleased and convenient for her.
In 1923, she went on a cruise and gave up the uncomfortable parasol. This is how the fashion for tanning appeared.
She created the famous perfume “Chanel №5” instead of a heavy floral scent. The simple and laconic bottle is still a symbol of style and elegance.
During the First World War, Gabrielle Chanel sewed raincoats from rubberized fabric, drawing attention to how the client got wet in the rain.
When there was no suitable fabric for sale, she created dresses from fabric, which all eminent couturiers refused.
She created fashion for herself and for herself, and imperceptibly she herself became the standard and symbol of a completely new direction and style.
The Second World War nearly deprived her of her freedom, and Coco Chanel was forced to go to Switzerland. 15 years later, she returned to Paris as a criminal for having an affair with a German officer. And, it would seem, her career was about to end. But Gabrielle thought differently.
In 1953 she opened her salon in Paris. The notoriety was merciless. But in America she became a real star. Journalists did not accept her new collection. But women accepted it!
Small black dress
“Fashion doesn’t exist to surprise the audience at shows. She is to dress this audience “(Coco Chanel)
The famous little black dress was created by accident. In those days, women’s outfits were literally full of bright colors, and they could not be called elegant in any way. Gabrielle Chanel thought so, and therefore the whole world.
Only the black color, in her opinion, really deserved this title. So the mourning color became the most fashionable and popular.
Her only love for life remained Arthur Capel… He took care of her, raised and cared for her. After a difficult childhood, she finally felt happy. Arthur helped her open salons, supported and believed in Coco. She loved him and was ready to marry him and have a child. But she couldn’t.
For trying to make money and get into the world in which Capel lived, she paid too high a price. Returning from another unsuccessful audition, Gabrielle realized that she was pregnant. She decided to have an abortion. It didn’t play an important role then.
Arthur Capel never married her, although he adored with all his heart. He died in a car accident.
“He left so that our love would become eternal” (Coco Chanel)
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