A Pioneer in French Fashion.
CoCo Chanel was the innovator of woman’s couture and ready to wear fashions in the 20th Century. Her style was classic, never to be considered mundane. “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different” As Mademoiselle Chanel so eloquently quoted her esoteric personality. Gabrielle Chanel arrived to the world circa 1883. She didn’t have the classic debutante upbringing of so many of the wearers of her couture. Mademoiselle Chanel actually received the nickname “Coco” while performing a song title “Qui qu’a vu Coco dans le Trocadero” in 1905. Her name alone, Coco Chanel was simply enough to start an unforgettable line. Mademoiselle Chanel was the innovator of woman’s couture and ready to wear fashions in the 20th century. Her style was classic, born never to be considered mundane.
At a time, when equal opportunity was considered a foreign language, it was completely unheard of for a woman to maintain a business, especially one that is such an internationally recognized success. Pablo Picasso called CoCo Chanel “The Woman with the most sense in Europe”. What made this woman so great, was she believed every woman deserved style and grace, regardless of the class structure. She encouraged other designers to copy off her style, so her looks could be offered to not only the high society. Mademoiselle Chanel once said “I am not an artist, I want my dresses to go out on the street.” . This whole process of thought, led to a whole new revolution of fashion, where not just high society could wear fashionable items, but the average woman could afford the similar fashions, that other designers had ‘knocked-off’. Her forward thinking towards allowing all women to be fashionable was most likely due to her under-privileged upbringing.
Born outside Paris, she was practically orphaned at age six and was raised with a very simple lifestyle by two of her aunts. It was not until age 16, when she discovered Paris and very quickly acquired the tastes of the wealthy. By 1914, she had opened up her own boutique and was the first designer to introduce the pullover sweater and use wool jersey fabric for other uses as opposed to the general thought of the times of using it simply for undergarments. Other designs consisted of simplicity, although highly innovative for the times, jersey suits and dresses, pleated skirts, turtleneck sweaters, the jumper, strapless dresses, and trench coats. Of course, most of these styles were forced out of practicality. Often, simplicity is often the most classic and timeless look and of course, who could forget the classic tweed cardigan Chanel jacket and suit. . “People laughed at the way I dressed, but that was the secret of my success, I didn’t look like anyone” To this day, we are constantly seeing re-emergences of this look, across the runways and in affordable labels as well.
Coco Chanel is without a doubt the most influential woman designer in the 20th century. As Jean Cocteau said “If Mademoiselle Chanel has reigned over fashion, It is not because she cut women’s hair, married silk and wool, put pearls on sweaters, avoided poetic labels on her perfumes, lowered the waistline or raised the waistline and obliged women to follow her directives; it is because – outside of the gracious and robust dictatorship – there is nothing in her era that she has missed.”