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The Elegant Life Of A Legend: Mademoiselle Coco Chanel

2104 words - 8 pages

Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel was born August 19, 1883 to Albert Chanel and Jeanne Devolle, a stallholder and a laundrywoman at the time of her birth. Gabrielle was the second daughter born to the Chanel’s. She had five siblings, her two sisters Julie and Antoinette, and her 3 brothers Alphonse, Lucien, and Augustin. "Chanel rarely talked about the circumstances of her birth, but she did occasionally mention a train journey that her mother had undertaken just before, in search of the elusive Albert." (Picardie 15). Chanel claimed that her mother was dressed were no one could determine if her mother was pregnant or not. When the passengers acknowledged the fact that she was pregnant they took her into their home and sent for a doctor. When the doctor arrived they took Devolle to the hospital were later Chanel was born. At her birth she was baptized and given the name Gabrielle Bonheur. The name was given from a nun that worked in the hospital and became her godmother as well. At the age of 5 Chanel's mother became ill and she and her sisters were taken to her uncle's house to stay. Chanel explained too many that her mother died of tuberculosis but Devolle actually died of poverty, pregnancy, and pneumonia. Chanel was put into a Roman Catholic orphanage by her father who later left the family behind. She was raised by nuns who taught her how to sew and would later lead to her life’s work. There was no future; for a poor girl being brought up in an orphanage but the dream was established at an early age. She began working with her sister in a milliner in Deauville. Throughout her glamorous and luxurious life she never mentioned to the world her upbringing and the trials life brought her. She repeatedly erased all of the saddened traces of her childhood.
When Chanel turned 18 she moved out of the orphanage and moved on to the life of Moulin’s. Chanel became a singer and performed in clubs in Vichy and Moulin’s were she received the name “Coco”. Some say her name came from a song she sang while on the other hand she stated that it came from cocotte, a French word for “a kept woman” (A&E Television Networks). At the age of 20 obtaining a steady job was hard for Chanel. So she quit as a singer at Moulin’s and later met a rich, young, French textile heir by the name of Etienne Balsan. Balsan was a horse and rider who offered to help her millinery business in Paris. During his service of helping her she became his mistress and he furnished her with the rich lifestyle such as dresses, diamonds, and pearls. Throughout the time of living with him she began to designing hats as a hobby which later became more than a hobby. “After opening her eyes” as Chanel said she left Balsan and continued to live in his apartment in Paris. "But the biggest secret of all was whether or not Coco was pregnant during the course of her relationship with Balsan." (Picardie 53) Chanel’s nephew André Palasse was rumored to have actually been her son and also the son of Balsan’s as...

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