“Fashion fades, only style remains the same.” -Coco Chanel
Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel (born August 19, 1883) was a French designer that changed the rules and the ways of fashion.
Chanel was raised by nuns – she was an orphan. Her mother passed away when she was young, and her father was not ready to take care of her and her sisters – so he sent them away. In the orphanage, she learnt her skills of sewing, and later on she had a brief career in singing. Coco Chanel opened her first clothes shop in 1910, and the rest, as they say, is history. (source)
Not only did Chanel create amazing designs, she was also the one who created certain rules for fashion that are still respected until today. She always interpreted her style with her designs and it never change – nor did it ever get boring.
Let’s take a look at some of her signature designs and the characteristics of her own style.
Characteristics of her personal style:
1. Simplicity and elegance
If there’s one way to describe Coco Chanel’s style, it would be ‘simple and elegant’. She always made sure to never over-do anything – and elegance always prevailed.
Coco was known for donning menswear before anyone else during her time. She also mastered the art of putting on something as masculine as a pair of baggy slacks and was able to pull the look off.
3. Black and white tones
This French designer was never one to wear colours on herself. Sticking mainly to the tones between black and white – it was rare to see Coco is a bright red dress or anything that had a splash of colour. But of course, her designs were a different story – they offered colours.
4. Faux pearl necklaces
If you look back at majority of the photos of Coco Chanel – you will notice the pearls. Pearls became one of her signature accessories and she even added them to her designs. The way Coco pulled off those pearl necklaces – it was timeless.
Iconic designs and products by Coco Chanel
1. Chanel Eau de parfum No.5
This is a perfume that is forever known and remembered. This was the first ever perfume that was launched by Coco Chanel herself. Chanel felt that it was time for the debut of a scent that was more boyish, modern and something that would speak to the liberated spirit of the 1920s. Until today, it is a scent that is still around and still loved by many.
2. The Little Black Dress (LBD)
This staple piece is as popular now as it was back in 1926 when it was introduced by Chanel. It was desinged with the intent to be simple, versatile and affordable. The first ever ‘Little Black Dress’ was cut in a black crepe with a high neckline, long fitted sleeves and a hemline that stopped just above the knee. It was called ‘The Ford’.
Now, the LBD is known as a necessity in every woman’s wardrobe.
3. Quilt stitched ballet flats
They are timeless and simple – just like Coco Chanel herself. These signature flats are made of lambskin leather and feature a rounded toe design with the logo of Chanel embroidered on the front. These flats usually come in two tones with the tips being black.
4. Tweed suit
In the ’20s, Chanel was on her way to find new ideas for female clothes – this is when she started to borrow items that were usually worn by men. By doing this, she found her way into creating simple jersey and tweet suits. It was only in the ’50s that she translated the tweed suits into a high fashion suit that looked modern.
The collar-less jackets become so associated with her name that we now refer to this style as the ‘Chanel jacket’.
5. The Breton Top (aka Sailor Stripes)
In the ’30s, Chanel came to design comfortable striped tops. Not only did she come up with the idea – but it was one of her staple pieces in her wardrobe. She would usually pair them up with yachting pants (wide-legged pants). Until now, this is something that is still in fashion – and still worn by anyone and everyone.
Here’s a quick biography to get you on the trail of who Coco Chanel was: