It has been accepted that men impose their own rules of savoir-vivre, but Coco Chanel was eager to shatter stereotypes. In the world of customs, fashion, behavior. Gentlemen are role models for the male part of the population, while also dictating the image of women to match their self-image. It turns out that it’s just male hubris, a long-entrenched macho stereotype in men’s minds that reality should conform to. And in fact, women have had a real impact on shaping our tastes. They were the ones who influenced a change in our habits, tastes, and they were the ones who influenced the emancipation of women. They have liberated them from the narrow circle of the obstructions imposed on them. They allowed them to discover themselves, becoming even more attractive in the world of gentlemen. After all, a gentleman would not be a gentleman if not for GentleWoman. A woman, like a gentleman characterized by impeccable manners and behavior. Just like any gentleman, every GentleWoman moves freely in the world of fashion. The trends in it were set for them not by men, but by women.

Table of Contents:

Who was Coco Chanel?

Coco Chanel, or Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel in real life, was born on August 19, 1883 in Saumur. Her father was a peddler and her mother a seamstress. After her mother died, her father placed her and her two sisters in an orphanage at the Abbey of Aubazine. Jeanne Devolle, Coco’s mother, died at the age of 33. Years later, Chanel confessed: “Everything was taken from me and I was dead.”

In 1903. Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel was 20 years old and after eight years in a Catholic orphanage, she was finally free. She acquired a profession as a seamstress, and was then employed as a saleswoman in the layette and clothing store “A Sainte-Marie” in the town of Moulins, which at the time was a military garrison. On Saturdays, Coco performed as a dancer at “Cafe Chinois.” Despite her apparent lack of voice, she became a singer in “Le Rotonde.” Although she sang in the choir at the orphanage, her vocal skills left much to be desired. This, however, was irrelevant. Confident and proud, with a peculiar beauty that attracted the attention of men, she won the affection of officers visiting the premises. She quickly became its star and was given the nickname Coco.

Read also: Portrait: Elsa Schiaparelli.

Playboy collecting beautiful women

It was here, at “Le Rotonde,” that Coco met the first man of her life. He was Etienne Balsan, a playboy who collects beautiful women. For Chanel, however, he became not only a lover, but also the one who bridged the world of poverty in which she existed with the world of prosperity. This wealthy heir from a family of textile industrialists made it possible for Coco to break out of the cabaret world and start life in Etienne, Balsan’s family estate in Royeaux, near Compiegne.

At first sight

Balsan quickly lost interest in Coco and began bringing other women to his estate. Chanel learned a lesson from this situation for the future, and undeterred by her lover’s behavior, she learned the rules of etiquette and won the hearts of Balsan’s rich mistresses with hats of her own making. Etienne, who was not interested in his lover’s life plans, rented an apartment in Paris for her, which became her studio, while providing the necessary funds for her operation. Coco’s life changed the day Balsan in 1906. He introduced her to his friend Arthur Capel, whom friends called Boy. It was infatuation at first sight, the couple began their life together almost immediately. Arthur was enchanted with Coco and it was with his support that she opened her first store.

Capela, however, like Balsan, acted cruelly toward Coco and began spending time with other women. Nor did he reveal to her his intention to marry another. Although the decision to marry was a blow to Coco, she showed no sign of weakness to her beloved or those around her. According to one rumor, Coco even sewed a wedding dress for Arthur’s future wife. It was only when she found herself alone in her room that she broke down and cried for hours.

Coco Chanel - stationary store
Photo: Coco Chanel – stationary store

The beginning of an empire

Chanel had to move out of her current apartment. She could not continue living with Boy. She rented an apartment with a black ceiling in the Alma neighborhood at 46 quai de Billy, which was furnished with beautiful mirrors and a gold Buddha statue. She opened her first boutique in 1910 in Paris. In 1918. she was already at the head of a small empire employing more than 300 seamstresses. So she was able to reimburse her lover for the money he put into her venture. By 1927. Chanel already owned five properties on rue Cambon, covering the buildings between numbers 23 and 31 Coco Chanel decided to turn to independent and active women and create clothes for them. She wanted to liberate women, her wish was to make them feel comfortable, but always chic and elegant. Clothes had to be simple and comfortable, skirts were shortened to facilitate movement.

Unique composition

In December 1919. A tragedy occurred that forever left a rump in Coco’s heart. That very year, Capela was killed in a car accident. After the death of her beloved, she moved to the house she purchased in 1920. Bel Respiro villa in Garches. Her emotional state was very bad. Years later, she stated: “This death was a terrible blow to me. In losing Capel, I lost everything.” Coco also used to say: “Whatever one may say, there is only one woman in a man’s life, all the others are only her shadow.” She had several more lovers. One of them was a cousin of Czar Nicholas II. Although the relationship lasted only a year, it proved to be of great use to Coco for her career plans. Indeed, through her relationship with Dimitry Romanov, she met perfumer Ernest Bo. It was he who created the world-famous Chanel perfume No. 5 for Coco in 1921. Unique composition. According to her order: “Artificial perfume, I say artificial like a dress, that is, manufactured. I am a tailor craftsman. I don’t want rose, lily of the valley, I want a perfume that is a compound.” The perfume was also followed by a jewelry collection.

Coco Chanel fashion show
Photo: Coco Chanel fashion show

Hollywood the capital of bad taste

The Russian czar’s cousin was replaced by the Duke of Westminster, a double divorcee. This relationship lasted as long as 14 years. In 1931, Coco met Samul Goldwyn in Monte Carlo, who offered to design costumes for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer stars for the sum of $1 million. She accepted the invitation and came to California. Among other things, she designed an outfit for Gloria Swanson for the film “Tonight or Never,” but her creations did not win the approval of producers. They were too unimpressive and sexy. “Chanel makes a lady look like a lady, and Hollywood wants her to look like two ladies”. – were the headlines from the American press of the period. Chanel decided that Hollywood was the capital of bad taste and that was the end of her American adventure.

In 1940. she met a German aristocrat thirteen years younger, Hans Guenther von Dincklage, who was a Nazi intelligence officer. However, the age difference did not bother Chanel: “Forgive me, but if a woman of my age has a chance at a lover, she does not need an ID card.” They went to Switzerland, but their relationship did not stand the test of time. In 1953 she returned to her homeland, where she became a fashion icon – not only French, but also worldwide.

Chanel vs Dior

After staying in Switzerland and returning to France, Chanel faced competition from Christian Dior with its New Look collection at the time. In response, Coco launched the quilted Chanel handbag and the famous black-topped ballerinas, which became a worldwide hit. She became the undisputed creator and dictator of world fashion. Her creations revolutionized women’s clothing. As Paul Morand, a French writer and diplomat, wrote, Coco Chanel “was the assassin of the 19th century style of dress for women.”

Coco freed women from corsets, giving them dresses and suits associated with avant-garde style. A brilliant breath of modernity as short hair. This concept of elegance in simplicity will be Coco Chanel’s line throughout her life.

Timeless fashion

Coco combined men’s fashion with women’s fashion and it was a success. The suit she created has become a famous and timeless costume that has brilliantly stood the test of time. Thanks to Jacqueline Kennedy and Lady Diana, the Chanel suit has become a symbol of feminine elegance. The little black she invented has become popular. Since its design, it has become a necessity in the closet of all women. From casual days to elegant dinners, the “little black” is always appropriate. Fashionable and chic, a turnkey solution when a woman has a dilemma about what to wear. Coco’s style combined simplicity and elegance. It was she who established the rules of Parisian fashion style. It liberated women and changed the way women began to dress. She was closely connected with the artistic world of Paris. Between the wars: she designed costumes for Cocteau’s plays, and was friends with Marcel Proust, Toulouse-Lautrec and Auguste Renoir. In 1932, Coco Chanel, an ardent supporter of pearls and jewelry of all kinds, became the first designer to introduce the High Jewelry line. After the declaration of World War II, Coco Chanel closed the doors of her fashion house to devote herself exclusively to perfume.

Coco Chanel fashion show
Photo: Coco Chanel fashion show

The Death of Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel died on January 10, 1971. in his 188-square-meter suite overlooking Vendome Square on the second floor of the Ritz Hotel in Paris. She was 87 years old. She worked on projects until the last day of her life, preparing a new collection that was presented after her passing. She was buried in a private ceremony at the Bois-de-Vaux cemetery in Lausanne, Switzerland.

French chic

She became a symbol of modernity as perpetually insubordinate to current trends, transcended the style codes of the ultra-corseted era, giving women a sense of their own worth. French casual-chic. Outfits of adventurous sobriety, made of materials hitherto reserved for the men’s closet, such as the cardigan. Shapes have widened, waistlines have loosened, and skirts have been provocatively shortened. She multiplied stylistic paradoxes, reconciling simplicity and elegance, masculine and feminine styles, fine materials and practical applications. Pajamas that can be worn both on the beach and in the evening, tweed suit. This disobedience to convention, this inexorable freedom of being and living also contributed to the construction of the Chanel myth. A strong, independent woman who inspires women around the world.

She revolutionized women’s fashion. Simplicity and elegance yet luxury, opulence and sophistication. She pioneered the emancipation of women through clothing. It freed the woman and made her more free to move. A symbol of French chic, this is the whole philosophy we adopt when wearing Chanel clothes.

Coco Chanel - style icon
Photo: Coco Chanel – style icon


You can’t talk about fashion in the 20th century without talking about Coco Chanel. According to writer and journalist Francois Baudot, “Chanel’s charm lies in affirming, through lines often reduced to their simplest expression, that the way you wear clothes is infinitely more important than what you wear. That a pretty figure is better than a perfect face. That a well-dressed woman is a poorly dressed woman. That the pinnacle of aristocracy is to gain popularity. For Chanel, who became the archangel of fashion, youth cannot be decreed. It works. Sitting down. Getting into the car. Walking down the street. Lengthening the leg. Or by raising your hand. Principles more than creations, concepts more than appearances. This Chanel style owes much of its longevity to functional logic. The practical dimension, which has always been able to match the rhythm of contemporary problems.


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