Chanel – A brief history

Katusha Fletcher takes a brief look at the history of the iconic brand Chanel

 

For a certain type of woman there is one label coveted above all others, Chanel. Founded by Gabrielle “Coco” Bonheur Chanel, daughter of an unwed laundress and street peddler, in early 20th century Paris, the House of Chanel epitomises effortless, understated style.

 

Chanel’s designs herald luxury, often with nothing more substantial than a wisp of black silk or interlocking opposing Cs. The pinnacle of chic, Chanel’s style vocabulary is one of little black dresses, quilted handbags and heady scents, femininity in its excess. Yet, Coco was a visionary; her deconstructed style, borne out of necessity, broke with the ostentatious, elaborate tailoring of the age.

 

Marilyn Monroe when asked "What did you have on?" after a photo shoot replied "Chanel No 5"
Marilyn Monroe when asked “What did you have on?” after a photo shoot replied “Chanel No 5”

Coco Chanel (1883 - 1971)
Coco Chanel (1883 – 1971)

Chanel's iconic logo
Chanel’s iconic logo

Chanel transformed haute couture with functional, flattering and casual suits and dresses – the perfect antidote the elaborate styles and heavy corseting of the 1910s. By World War I and the liberation of women, the fluidity of Chanel’s apparels allowed women freedom of movement in an increasingly fast-paced world.

 

The 1920s saw the arrival of two icons, the Little Black Dress, a staple for every woman’s wardrobe and Chanel No.5. The LBD, a simply tailored, often short yet always versatile evening dress that transcends current trends, was an instant success. Acclaimed for giving women the gift of time with its ease of changing into, constraining corsets quickly became a thing of the past. Today, the LBD guides the modern woman effortlessly from day to night without comprising style or allure.

 

Chanel No.5 is simply without doubt the most famous perfume of all time. The fifth vial of the potions proposed, no. 5 comprises 80 ingredients with no one note given precedence. This intoxicating fragrance encased in a simple “invisible” bottle is as popular now as it was at its launch.

 

Coco continued to build on the Chanel brand until her death, aged 87, in 1971. Remembered as much for her bobbed black hair, red lips and outspoken manner as for the youthful physicality of her designs, Coco’s legacy is one of a confident, yet always feminine woman.

 

Today, Chanel is one of the most celebrated labels in the world. Currently spearheaded by Karl Lagerfeld, the brand continues to captivate with its blend of current trends and timeless tailoring, making every piece acquired a statement rather than a mere purchase.

 

View the official website for Chanel at: http://www.chanel.com

 

 

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  1. Wasn’t she very comfortable collaborating in Paris with various German officers? The only surprising thing is that she did not after the war claim to have been a sort of double slut passing info to the Resistance

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