Designers we love – Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel.

Everyone wants a piece of Chanel in their wardrobe, well we do anyway. It’s probably one of the most iconic brands in the world, with some preloved items attracting many more thousands of pounds than their original selling price.

Owning a Chanel is like owning a piece of fashion history, but most of us don’t actually know the history behind the brand, other than it was created by Coco Chanel herself.

Born in France in August 1883 Coco Chanel’s real name was Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, she actually picked up the nickname ‘Coco’ whilst singing in a Cabaret at the age of 23 to try to make a living. Before that she was forced into child labour along with her 2 sisters and 2 brothers having spent her childhood in an orphanage. It was whilst she was there she was taught to sew by a nun and later got a job at a local tailors.

At the age of 24 she became the mistress of Etienne Balsa a wealthy textile heir and started designing and making hats for her wealthy friends, a year or so later she had an affair with Etienne’s best friend Arthur Capel breaking Etienne’s heart.

By the age of 30 Coco Chanel had 2 shops selling her designs, her first was a hat shop funded by her boyfriend Chapel, the second was a boutique where she introduced casual clothes, by the age of 35 she had a boutique on the now famous Rue Cambon in Paris. Sadly Chapel died in a car crash soon after he was obligated to marry another woman.

Coco Chanel introduced fragrance to her range when she was 38, calling her first perfume ‘Chanel No 5’, named after a fortune teller told her that the number 5 was her lucky number.

She soon developed lipsticks and face powder and as her makeup line grew so did her clothing range, and she was inspired to create her iconic tweeds following an introduction to The Duke of Westminster in England.

It was Coco Chanel that introduced the world to ‘The Little Black Dress’ and by age 52 she was at the height of her fame with an empire of fashion houses, perfumeries and costume jewellery. But all was not well and Coco became a habitual drug user relying on Morphine to get her through each day. The onset of World War 2 forced much of her businesses into closure and rumour has it she became a Nazi spy.

After several years of living in Switzerland she tried to revive her couture house at the age of 71 and debuts her shoulder strap bag which completely changed handbag history forever, meanwhile her iconic tweed suits became a status symbol in America.

Coco Chanel died in her hotel room at The Ritz in Paris in 1971.

With the confidence that some considered arrogance, Coco Chanel was quite the rebel of her time. She was able to work her way up from the poor, under privileged life she once had to becoming one of the most important designers in fashion history. She made the most out of every available opportunity and connection.

At Dress we have seen timeless classics and brand new pieces of Chanel in our store. Our vintage Chanel dress is surely a collector’s piece, whilst items such as our Chanel Espadrilles and modern day Chanel laptop case are simply must-have items.

Visit our website or call into our boutique in Prestbury Village to find out more.