Coco Chanel's Biography

Coco Chanel Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel


  • Born
    19 August 1883
  • Died
    10 January 1971
  • Sex
  • Nationality
  • Citizen

Coco Chanel is one of the most prominent personalities of the last century, who was able to change fashion towards convenience and elegance. She is one of the most famous fashion designers in the world, the founder of the clothing and perfume brand Chanel. She despised people and was ready to go over their heads for the sake of their success and profit. She received her nickname "Coco" because she sang the song "Ko Ko Ri Ko" many times in the cafe.

A girl from a poor family

Gabrielle Chanel was born in 1883 in France and grew up in a poor family. Her name was given in honor of the nurse Gabrielle, who helped the baby to be born. She was the second child of Jeanne Devol and Alberta Chanel. Her father was an ordinary market trader and was not officially married to his wife. She did not like to talk about her childhood, because there were not many happy moments. When she was eleven her mother died. Soon, the father left the girl with a sister and two brothers. Chanel's children went to the orphanage at the monastery, where Gabrielle stayed until adulthood. It was the nuns who taught the girl to sew. And when she left the establishment she was able to get a job as a saleswoman in the “Au Sans Pareil” lingerie store. Gabrielle also loved to sing and even performed in a cabaret. It was then that she received the nickname Coco, because her favorite songs were “Ko Ko Ri Ko” and “Qui qua vu Coco”. The girl dreamed of becoming a ballerina, singer, dancer, went to auditions, but unsuccessfully.

The road to success

In one of these cabarets, Chanel met a wealthy retired officer, Étienne Balsan. Soon, a man invited her to move to his house, which was a real castle in Paris. She agreed, but she didn't like to depend on someone. One day she realized that she wanted to be a modist. At first, Etienne only laughed at this, but he introduced her to Arthur Capel. Arthur Capel was her like-minded and helped her take her first steps in her career.

Coco Chanel's first store in Paris

In 1910, she was already able to open her own hat shop in Paris, which is still opposite the Ritz Hotel on 31 Cambon Street. The case was successful. Three years later, she opened a second store, already in the city of Deauville. She managed to leave the business afloat even during the First World War. Already nothing could stop her. The style she created was later called "simple luxury". She herself came up with the design of all the things that she sold, and everything that came out from under her hands carried genuine elegance and convenience. The most famous ladies of Paris came to her, they talked about Coco Chanel, recommended her to each other. The number of her clients grew every day. Chanel became the first tailor who entered high society, and was not a servant of wealthy customers. Her friends became composers, choreographers, artists, directors, entrepreneurs. Soon she already entered the aristocratic society. That is probably why her signature style in clothes, accessories and perfumes was elegance. She changed public opinion about the work of the designer, becoming an attractive personality on an international scale. She knew the Great Russian Prince Dmitry, became close to the English Duke of Westminster. Many successful men asked for her hand, but she really cared only about her job. To the proposal of the Duke of Westminster, Coco replied that there may be many duchesses of Westminster, but Chanel is the only one.

Chanel was the first to offer women pantsuits and showed that the masculine style looks feminine and elegant. She herself rarely appeared in trousers, believed that dresses better emphasize her perfect figure. And the figure and appearance of the fashion designer were really perfect. At the age of fifty, Coco Chanel was at the top of her fame and beauty. The collections created during this period are distinguished by freedom and the play of imagination. These Years became the most golden in the Chanel biography. Thus, she continued to implement all her ideas for creating elegance.

The famous perfume "Chanel No. 5"

In 1921, she launched the famous Chanel No. 5 perfume. They say that Gabrielle Chanel asked the perfumer of the royal court Ernest Bo, who had fled from revolutionary Russia, to create a new fragrance, which, according to her idea, was supposed to "smell like a woman". Bo invented not one, but twenty-four compositions, of which he chose ten by exclusion. He put them in front of Coco, marking the bottles so as not to get confused, with numbers from one to ten. Chanel chose fragrance number five. Fashion historians say that she chose the fifth because she really liked the smell, but there is an opinion that she chose her favorite number, which she considered her talisman. No wonder the fragrance appeared on May 5 - that is, 5.05.

In 1924, Chanel introduced a makeup collection, which consisted of powder and lipstick

The little black dress

There is no better name in fashion history than a legend of style - the great Coco Chanel and her brainchild - a little black dress. A little black dress is the most revered and versatile thing in a women's wardrobe. It appeared in 1926. Of course, it wasn’t Chanel who was the first to invent a dress made of black fabric. But it was she who gave this thing a new status and made it fashionable. In 1926, the American magazine "Vogue", equated the "little black dress" with the "Ford" car in universality and popularity, it was called "Ford by Chanel". The dress created by Chanel was the embodiment of laconicism, it covered knees. A little black dress that has become a classic is a symbol of elegance.

Chanel made getting a tan fashionable.>

The popularity of tanning occurred by chance when Coco Chanel after a cruise returned to Paris with a golden tint of skin. When she arrived, she did not hide her tan, and people followed her example. In 1929, her home produced suntan oil. Chanel also released a collection called ''Riviera''.

World War II and Arrest

However, after the declaration of World War II in 1939, Chanel had to close all of its stores. She accepted the fact that at such a time nobody cares about fashion. Coco remained at this time in the French capital and even managed to rescue her nephew from captivity. To do this, Coco had to turn to a German officer. In September 1944, she was arrested because of rumors of her connection with German officer Hans Gunther von Dincklage. Soon she was released on the condition that she leave France. Then Chanel left for Switzerland and lived there for almost ten years.

Return to the fashion world

When Coco Chanel turned seventy, she returned and in 1953 she opened a salon in Paris. In 1954, the 71-year-old Gabrielle returned to the world of haute couture, presenting her new collection. However, after the war she had many competitors. Some of the most successful were Dior and Balenciaga. Power in the world of fashion from women's hands passed into men's hands, but not for long. Three years later, she not only regained its former glory, but, perhaps, even increased it.

The Chanel bag

In 1954, Coco introduced elegant rectangular handbags on a long chain handle. The woman again changed fashion, making her style one of the dominant. Women could carry the bag conveniently: just hang it on their shoulders and completely forget about it.

Chanel's tweed suit was her last calling card.


Chanel Coco died at the age of eighty-seven. It happened on January 10, 1971 at a hotel due to a heart attack. The famous fashion designer was buried in the Bois de Vaux cemetery (Switzerland, Lausanne).

Unlucky personal life

The woman who presented the world with Chanel No. 5 perfumes, a small bag and a small black dress, did not find personal happiness. Despite the huge success, in Chanel’s personal life, not everything was smooth. She had many novels, but she was never married and had no children. Chanel Coco achieved such wide popularity not only thanks to her undoubted talents, but also with the help of her lovers. The first love affair was with Etienne Balsan. He was a very wealthy officer. After that, Coco Chanel had a love affair with Arthur Capel, who helped her start a business. She was not happy because Arthur often cheated on her. Chanel’s love was so strong that she turned a blind eye to it. According to rumors, Coco even had to sew a wedding dress for the future of Arthur's wife. However, in 1919, Arthur Capel died in a car accident. Arthur's death in the accident greatly upset her, she was depressed for a long time. A year later, she began a relationship with Prince Dmitry Romanov. Coco Chanel was seven years older than him. He sponsored her projects and introduced him to the imperial perfumer, who created the famous perfume for Coco. However, a year later, the prince left for America to marry a wealthy girl. Despite this, Dmitry manages to maintain friendly relations with Coco until his death in 1942.  After that, she began an affair with the Duke of Westminster. When they were about to get married, it turned out that the duke wanted to have children. But Coco could not have children because Coco was barren. The romance with the duke lasted fourteen years, but the couple still broke up. Chanel herself loved the children and wanted them, but after numerous abortions in her youth she could no longer have them. During World War II, Coco Chanel met a diplomat from Germany named Hans Gunther von Dincklage. With his help, she rescued her nephew from captivity. But it was because of him that she was forced to leave for Switzerland. As a result, they split up and this was her last romance.

"Chanel" fashion house after her death

After Coco’s death, "Chanel" fashion house experienced difficult times. However, in 1983, Karl Lagerfeld became the head of the house. From that moment, a rebirth began.

Personal Quotes

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

2.“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.”

3.“Its probably not just by chance that I’m alone. It would be very hard for a man to live with me, unless he’s terribly strong. And if he’s stronger than I, I’m the one who can’t live with him. … I’m neither smart nor stupid, but I don’t think I’m a run-of-the-mill person. I’ve been in business without being a businesswoman, I’ve loved without being a woman made only for love. The two men I’ve loved, I think, will remember me, on earth or in heaven, because men always remember a woman who caused them concern and uneasiness. I’ve done my best, in regard to people and to life, without precepts, but with a taste for justice.”

4.“A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.”

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

6.“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”

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

8.“You live but once; you might as well be amusing.”

9.“Success is most often achieved by those who don't know that failure is inevitable.” 

10.“Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.”

11.“I don't care what you think about me. I don't think about you at all.”

12.“Fashion changes, but style endures.”

13.“If you were born without wings, do nothing to prevent them from growing.”

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

15.“A woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future.”

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