Beginnings of Coco:
Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel was born in France in 1883. When her mother died of disease when she was at the age of twelve, her father abandoned her and her siblings. She was taken in by nuns at an orphanage where she learned to sew. The nuns’ black and white clothing inspired her designs, especially the “Little Black Dress/ LBD”. Learning to sew was her means of escape. Without the overwhelming tragedies of her childhood, Chanel might never have learned to sew. After she left the orphanage, she decided to begin selling linens but when this failed she began singing, acting and dancing. She adopted the name “Coco” during a brief career as a café and cabaret singer. She met a young businessman, Arthur Milliner who helped her establish a hat shop in Paris in 1910. In this essay I will outline how Coco Chanel paved the way in women’s fashion and her influences which are still an integral part of today’s fashion.
What made Chanel Chanel:
She was rebellious and had the most radical ideas of her time. She completely dismissed the confinements of corsets. She paved the way for other women in the world of fashion which mainly consisted of men dressing women. “The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”
Women’s fashion was initially led and dominated by men. Men designed women’s clothing on the basis of the feminine stereotype that was the “ideal woman” who was kept and had to have a near non-existent waist. Women were almost prisoners in their own clothing as they were confined to corsets. Coco promoted freedom and liberation, and the ability to express oneself through fashion and clothing. Some say Coco brought liberation to women through her clothing considering her early life was the opposite of liberated as she was a mistress to many wealthy, opulent men.
Men only led fashion because they saw women as typically inferior and impotent when it came to careers and the ability to run businesses. Coco broke these boundaries and showed the world that anybody was capable of prosperity regardless of background and gender. The barriers she broke went beyond fashion and design, because she never married and never had children she broke the stereotype of being a “kept woman” and housewife. She once said “A girl can be two things: who and what she wants”. She also endorsed tanning and darker skin, tans were often associated with the less wealthy and the wealthier you were, the paler you would be.
Chanel designed all her clothing for herself and how it suited her, never letting society influence her. She said luxury was comfort and simplicity “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury”. she was one of the first women to wear trousers publicly, she took men’s trousers and pyjamas and made them into something stylish. The Little Black dress “LBD” is probably one of her most iconic pieces, the fact that she took a colour only associated with mourning and incorporated it into everyday...