Fashion’s most iconic figure Cocó Chanel, was born as Gabrielle. She was raised in an orphanage after her mother passed away and her father failed to make ends meet. This is where young Gabrielle learnt to sow magic with her needles, a small skill that went on to liberate women from the confines of their restrictive corsets. But her first love was the stage and so she started off her career as a mediocre stage singer. Cocó was actually a stage name given by the soldiers in her audience. Many would call it an unlikely foundation from where she pioneered a massive revolution in the world of high fashion. The more we know her story the more inspired we are to pursue our dreams.
Finally in 1910, she opened her first shop at Paris’s Rue Cambon to sell hats with the help of Arthur “Boy” Capel. Her comfortable yet classy dresses were liked by all. Soon her designs became the talk of the town. Over the decade her name became more and more popular. But her best was yet to come.
- In 1920 she launched a perfume. A first of its kind named Chanel no. 5. To her a perfume “is the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion. . . . That heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure”.
- In the same year she stormed the morbid mourning colour black into the most preferred colour of fashionistas by introducing the now iconic, little black dress.
- In 1925, she introduced the now legendary Chanel suit- a collarless jacket and well-fitted skirt. She borrowed elements from men’s wear and added a tint of luxury into it. A welcome change loved by celebrities and the general public too.
- The flapper fashion style of the 20’s was a projection of Coco’s own style. The Chanel logo was designed in 1925 by Coco Chanel herself. Though unchanged, it remained synonymous with elegance, wealth and elitism, setting standards in international fashion.
Despite all her achievements, she was a lone woman in the man’s world of business and profit margins. Her business partners eluded her from her rightful profits. It is said that she herself got only 10% of the profit. She sued the agreement several times but that didn’t help her much. But this did not deter her confidence.
Her different take on the fashion game made her an iconic figure in Parisian literary and artistic world. She was an inspiration to generations to come, not just in her legendary designs but also in her self-motivating and empowering quotes. Some are still relevant today.
1. “The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud” – for every time you feel left out while trying to fulfil others needs.
2. “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” – for every time you need an inspiration to think out of the box.
3. “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.” – for every time someone tells you that you need to look over the top to stay fashionable.
4. “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.” – for every time someone makes a mistake to judge a book by its cover.
5. “Fashion changes, but style endures.” – for that time when you feel down and out and need to stay motivated.
She can easily be called one of the first women entrepreneurs of the world. But amidst all her achievements she went on to become legendary.