Coco Chanel
French fashion designer
Coco Chanel
Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel was an influential French fashion designer, founder of the famous brand Chanel, whose modernist thought, practical design, and pursuit of expensive simplicity made her an important and influential figure in 20th-century fashion. She was the only fashion designer to be named on Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century.
Biography
Coco Chanel's personal information overview.
{{personal_detail.supertitle}}
{{personal_detail.title}}
{{personal_detail.title}}
Photo Albums
Popular photos of Coco Chanel
News
News abour Coco Chanel from around the web
New Perfume Clinically Proven To Attract Men (VIDEO) - Huffington Post
Google News - over 5 years
Coco Chanel is said to have quipped, "A woman should wear perfume wherever she wants to be kissed." With this new perfume, a woman can also instruct men how to flirt. Brought to us by the "Early" Show, Eau Flirt claims to be "clinically proven" to make
Article Link:
Google News article
Was Coco Chanel a Nazi spy? - 89.3 KPCC
Google News - over 5 years
Coco Chanel was the epitome of French sophistication and understated elegance. From her humble beginnings as an orphan peasant to her meteoric rise as the mogul of a fashion empire, Chanel's life has become the stuff of legend
Article Link:
Google News article
In Light Of Coco Expose, Brand Chanel Must Soldier On - Forbes
Google News - over 5 years
Like many great brands, Coco Chanel had a vision for the brand of no-nonsense clothes that empowered women to feel comfortable and dignified: “It reflects my personality, something abstract and unique.” Coco was not just the epitome of idolatry,
Article Link:
Google News article
Sunday night shows - Sydney Morning Herald
Google News - over 5 years
Yet the grand old dame of the city's retail heart remains unruffled; like Coco Chanel, she knows that fashion fades, but that style, born of good taste, lasts forever. So it was with the same spirit the arcade's prominent merchants paraded their wares
Article Link:
Google News article
Coco Chanel: Nazi agent? - BBC News
Google News - over 5 years
She was one of the most remarkable women of the 20th Century, but Coco Chanel's reputation is again under scrutiny over allegations that she was a Nazi agent in WWII France. To millions of people around the globe Chanel stands for style, ... - -
Article Link:
Google News article
Biography claims Coco Chanel was a Nazi spy - Reuters
Google News - over 5 years
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A new book about the life of Coco Chanel published in the United States on Tuesday aims to strengthen claims the French designer collaborated with the Nazis during World War II as a spy code-named "Westminster. ... - -
Article Link:
Google News article
Names and Faces: Coco Chanel, Elvis Presley, Austin Powers - Washington Post (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Longtime whispers about legendary French designer Coco Chanel's dallying with the Nazi regime during World War II are the subject of a new book, Gawker reports. “Sleeping With the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War” by Hal Vaughan explores Chanel's
Article Link:
Google News article
ON THE RUNWAY; From Spies to Brides
NYTimes - over 5 years
TWO years ago everybody seemed to be making a movie about the fashion world. Now they're writing a book. Three biographies of Coco Chanel are coming out, in case you've never heard of the lady from the Rue Cambon. There are also a number of designer monographs, quirky memoirs and elegant surveys from magazine archives. It's a huge season for
Article Link:
NYTimes article
STYLE; Adding a Splash of Luxury to Swimwear
NYTimes - over 5 years
PARIS -- The swimwear industry flocked to the sunny beaches of Florida last month for the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim in Miami. But there was one top bathing suit brand that fashionistas could be sure not to find there. The French company Eres isn't interested in runway shows or fashion weeks, and it has always shunned the annual Miami event,
Article Link:
NYTimes article
Summer at Camp Couture
NYTimes - over 5 years
COLOR wars at camp are a common American pastime, but the one that took place in a small building on East 53rd Street in Manhattan on a recent Tuesday was of a different stripe. ''Do you think that we need to come up with a cohesive, like, color palette?'' asked Sara Mullally, 16, trying to sound diplomatic. She was seated with nine other girls at
Article Link:
NYTimes article
BROWSING; That's Ms. Havisham
NYTimes - over 5 years
FOR their fall Marchesa presentation, inspired by Dickens's dotty Miss Havisham, Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig accessorized their theatrical evening clothes with beautifully intricate and spooky Miriam Haskell jewelry. Back in the day, Haskell, who founded her costume jewelry company in 1926, created jewelry for the likes of Coco Chanel and Joan
Article Link:
NYTimes article
Madame Gres, Forgotten Fashion Icon Who Made Gowns Fit For Goddesses, Gets Her ... - ARTINFO
Google News - over 5 years
By Ann Binlot Many parallels can be drawn to Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel and Madame Grès: Both spoke very little about their upbringings, started their fashion careers in millenary, going on to become the great couturières of the 20th century
Article Link:
Google News article
Ways With Words 2011: James Naughtie, Penelope Lively, Michael Wright, review - Telegraph.co.uk
Google News - over 5 years
And Justine Picardie gave a brilliant account of Coco Chanel, the first designer to produce clothes for real women, clothes they could live in and feel comfortable in. We were treated also to Audrey Tautou's take on Chanel in the film,
Article Link:
Google News article
Midnight magic at Chanel - Lucire
Google News - over 5 years
With the catwalk glistening just like after rainfall, the models stepped out one by one for an evening promenade, set to Michel Gaubert's soundtrack of English pop sparked with notes from Stravinsky (Coco Chanel's lover in the '20s)
Article Link:
Google News article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Coco Chanel
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1971
    Age 87
    As 1971 began, Chanel was 87 years old, tired, and ailing.
    More Details Hide Details She carried out her usual routine of preparing the spring catalogue. She had gone for a long drive the afternoon of Saturday, 9 January. Soon after, feeling ill, she went to bed early.
  • 1970
    Age 86
    In 1970, her net worth was $19 billion (equivalent to $118 billion in 2015), making her one of the richest women of all time.
    More Details Hide Details Her social connections appeared to encourage a highly conservative personal outlook. Rumors arose about Chanel's activities during the German occupation of France in World War II, and she was criticised for being too comfortable with the Germans but never thoroughly investigated. After several years in Switzerland after the war, she returned to Paris and revived her fashion house. In 2011, Hal Vaughan published a book on Chanel based on newly declassified documents of that era, revealing that she had collaborated with Germans in intelligence activities. One plan in late 1943 was for her to carry an SS separate peace overture to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to end the war.
  • 1955
    Age 71
    In 2005, the Chanel firm released an exact replica of the original 1955 bag to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its creation.
    More Details Hide Details The bag's design was informed by Chanel's convent days and her love of the sporting world. The chain used for the strap echoed the chatelaines worn by the caretakers of the orphanage where Chanel grew up, whilst the burgundy lining referenced the convent uniforms. The quilted outside was influenced by the jackets worn by jockeys, whilst at the same time enhancing the bag's shape and volume. In an outdoor environment of turf and sea, Chanel took in the sun, making suntans not only acceptable, but a symbol denoting a life of privilege and leisure. Historically, identifiable exposure to the sun had been the mark of laborers doomed to a life of unremitting, unsheltered toil. "A milky skin seemed a sure sign of aristocracy." By the mid-1920s, women could be seen lounging on the beach without a hat to shield them from the sun's rays. The Chanel influence made sun bathing fashionable.
    Following her comeback, Chanel updated the design in February 1955, creating what would become the "2.55" (named for the date of its creation).
    More Details Hide Details Whilst details of the classic bag have been reworked, such as the 1980s update by Karl Lagerfeld where the clasp and lock were redesigned to incorporate the crossed C's Chanel logo and leather was interlaced through the shoulder chain, the bag has retained its basic form.
  • 1954
    Age 70
    The revival of her couture house in 1954 was fully financed by Chanel's opponent in the perfume battle, Pierre Wertheimer.
    More Details Hide Details Her new collection was not received well by Parisians, who felt her reputation had been tainted by her wartime association with the Nazis. But, her return to couture was applauded by the British and Americans, who became her faithful customers. According to Edmonde Charles-Roux, Chanel had become tyrannic and extremely lonely late in life. In her last years she was sometimes accompanied by Jacques Chazot and her confidante Lilou Marquand. A faithful friend was also the Brazilian Aimée de Heeren, who lived in Paris four months a year at the nearby Hôtel Meurice. The former rivals shared happy memories of times with the Duke of Westminster. They frequently walked together around central Paris.
  • 1953
    Age 69
    In 1953 she sold her villa La Pausa on the French Riviera to the publisher and translator Emery Reves.
    More Details Hide Details Five rooms from La Pausa have been replicated at the Dallas Museum of Art, to house the Reves' art collection as well as pieces of furniture belonging to Chanel. Unlike the pre-war era, when women reigned as the premier couturiers, Christian Dior achieved success in 1947 with his "New Look", and a cadre of male designers achieved recognition: Dior, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Robert Piguet, and Jacques Fath. Chanel was convinced that women would ultimately rebel against the aesthetic favored by the male couturiers, what she called "illogical" design: the "waist cinchers, padded bras, heavy skirts, and stiffened jackets". At more than 70 years old, after having her couture house closed for 15 years, she felt the time was right for her to re-enter the fashion world.
  • 1952
    Age 68
    Chanel paid for Schellenberg's medical care and living expenses, financially supported his wife and family, and paid for Schellenberg's funeral upon his death in 1952.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1945
    Age 61
    In 1945, Chanel moved to Switzerland, where she lived for several years, part of the time with Dincklage.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1944
    Age 60
    In September 1944, Chanel was called in to be interrogated by the Free French Purge Committee, the épuration.
    More Details Hide Details The committee had no documented evidence of her collaboration activity and was obliged to release her. According to Chanel's grand-niece, Gabrielle Palasse Labrunie, when Chanel returned home she said, "Churchill had me freed". The extent of Churchill's intervention for Chanel after the war became a subject of gossip and speculation. Some historians claimed that people worried that, if Chanel were forced to testify about her own activities at trial, she would expose the pro-Nazi sympathies and activities of certain top-level British officials, members of the society elite, and the royal family. Vaughan writes that some claim that Churchill instructed Duff Cooper, British ambassador to the French provisional government, to protect Chanel. Requested to appear in Paris before investigators in 1949, Chanel left her retreat in Switzerland to confront testimony given against her at the war crime trial of Baron Louis de Vaufreland, a French traitor and highly placed German intelligence agent. Chanel denied all the accusations. She offered the presiding judge, Leclercq, a character reference: "I could arrange for a declaration to come from Mr. Duff Cooper."
  • FIFTIES
  • 1943
    Age 59
    In late 1943 or early 1944, Chanel and her SS master, Schellenberg, devised a plan to get a request to Britain to consider a separate peace to be negotiated by the SS.
    More Details Hide Details When interrogated by British intelligence at war's end, Schellenberg maintained that Chanel was "a person who knew Churchill sufficiently to undertake political negotiations with him". For this mission, named Operation Modellhut ("Model Hat"), they also recruited Vera Bate Lombardi. Count Joseph von Ledebur-Wicheln, a Nazi agent who defected to the British Secret Service in 1944, recalled a meeting he had with Dincklage in early 1943, in which the baron had suggested including Lombardi as a courier. Dincklage purportedly said, "The Abwehr had first to bring to France a young Italian woman Lombardi Coco Chanel was attached to because of her lesbian vices…" Unaware of the machinations of Schellenberg and Chanel, Lombardi was led to believe that the forthcoming journey to Spain would be a business trip exploring the potential for establishing the Chanel couture in Madrid. Lombardi acted as intermediary, delivering a letter written by Chanel to Winston Churchill, to be forwarded to him via the British embassy in Madrid. Schellenberg's SS liaison officer, Captain Walter Kutschmann, acted as bagman, "told to deliver a large sum of money to Chanel in Madrid". Ultimately, the mission proved a failure for the Germans. British intelligence files reveal that the plan collapsed after Lombardi, on arrival in Madrid, proceeded to denounce Chanel and others to the British embassy as Nazi spies.
    In 1943, Chanel traveled to Berlin with her lover, Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage, an Abwehr spy, to meet with SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler to formulate strategy.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1941
    Age 57
    Vaughan establishes that Chanel committed herself to the German cause as early as 1941 and worked for General Walter Schellenberg, chief of SS intelligence.
    More Details Hide Details At the end of the war, Schellenberg was tried by the Nuremberg Military Tribunal, and sentenced to six years imprisonment for war crimes. He was released in 1951 owing to incurable liver disease and took refuge in Italy.
  • 1940
    Age 56
    Chanel was not aware that the Wertheimers, anticipating the forthcoming Nazi mandates against Jews had, in May 1940, legally turned control of Parfums Chanel over to Félix Amiot, a Christian French businessman and industrialist.
    More Details Hide Details At war's end, Amiot returned "Parfums Chanel" to the hands of the Wertheimers. During the period directly following the end of World War II, the business world watched with interest and some apprehension the ongoing legal wrestle for control of Parfums Chanel. Interested parties in the proceedings were cognizant that Chanel's Nazi affiliations during wartime, if made public knowledge, would seriously threaten the reputation and status of the Chanel brand. Forbes magazine summarized the dilemma faced by the Wertheimers: is Pierre Wertheimer's worry how "a legal fight might illuminate Chanel's wartime activities and wreck her image—and his business." Chanel hired René de Chambrun, Vichy France Prime Minister Pierre Laval's son-in-law, as her lawyer to sue Wertheimer. Ultimately, the Wertheimers and Chanel came to a mutual accommodation, renegotiating the original 1924 contract. On 17 May 1947, Chanel received wartime profits from the sale of Chanel No. 5, in an amount equivalent to some nine million dollars in twenty-first century valuation. Her future share would be two percent of all Chanel No. 5 sales worldwide. The financial benefit to her would be enormous. Her earnings were projected at $25 million a year, making her at the time one of the richest women in the world. In addition, Pierre Wertheimer agreed to an unusual stipulation proposed by Chanel herself. Wertheimer agreed to pay all of Chanel's living expenses—from the trivial to the large—for the rest of her life.
  • 1936
    Age 52
    Her biographer Vaughan suggests that Chanel used the outbreak of war as an opportunity to retaliate against those workers who, lobbying for fair wages and work hours, had closed her business operation during a general labor strike in France in 1936.
    More Details Hide Details In closing her couture house, Chanel made a definitive statement of her political views. Her dislike of Jews, reportedly inculcated by her convent years and sharpened by her association with society elites, had solidified her beliefs. She shared with many of her circle a conviction that Jews were a threat to Europe because of the Bolshevik government in the Soviet Union. During the German occupation, Chanel resided at the Hotel Ritz. It was noteworthy as the preferred place of residence for upper-echelon German military staff. Her romantic liaison with Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage, a German officer who had been an operative in military intelligence since 1920, eased her arrangements at the Ritz. World War II, specifically the Nazi seizure of all Jewish-owned property and business enterprises, provided Chanel with the opportunity to gain the full monetary fortune generated by Parfums Chanel and its most profitable product, Chanel No. 5. The directors of Parfums Chanel, the Wertheimers, were Jewish. Chanel used her position as an "Aryan" to petition German officials to legalize her claim to sole ownership.
  • 1935
    Age 51
    The Chanel couture was a lucrative business enterprise, by 1935 employing 4,000 people.
    More Details Hide Details As the 1930s progressed, Chanel's place on the throne of haute couture was threatened. The boyish look and the short skirts of the 1920s flapper seemed to disappear overnight. Chanel's designs for film stars in Hollywood were not successful and had not aggrandized her reputation as expected. More significantly, Chanel's star had been eclipsed by her premier rival, the designer Elsa Schiaparelli. Schiaparelli's innovative design, replete with playful references to Surrealism, was garnering critical acclaim and generating enthusiasm in the fashion world. Feeling she was losing her avant-garde edge, Chanel collaborated with Jean Cocteau on his theatre piece Oedipe Rex. The costumes she designed were mocked and critically lambasted: "Wrapped in bandages the actors looked like ambulant mummies or victims of some terrible accident." In 1939, at the beginning of World War II, Chanel closed her shops, maintaining her apartment situated above the couture house at 31 Rue de Cambon. She claimed that it was not a time for fashion; as a result of her action, 4,000 female employees lost their jobs.
    Her involvement with Iribe was a deep one until his sudden death in 1935.
    More Details Hide Details Iribe and Chanel shared the same reactionary politics, Chanel financing Iribe's monthly, ultra-nationalist and anti-republican newsletter, Le Témoin, which encouraged an irrational fear of foreigners and preached anti-Semitism. In 1936, one year after Le Témoin stopped publication, Chanel veered to the opposite end of the ideological continuum by financing Pierre Lestringuez's radical left-wing magazine Futur.
  • FORTIES
  • 1932
    Age 48
    En route to California from New York, traveling in a white train car luxuriously outfitted for her use, Chanel was interviewed by Colliers magazine in 1932.
    More Details Hide Details She said that she had agreed to go to Hollywood to "see what the pictures have to offer me and what I have to offer the pictures." Chanel designed the clothing worn on screen by Gloria Swanson, in Tonight or Never (1931), and for Ina Claire in The Greeks Had a Word for Them (1932). Both Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich became private clients. Her experience with American movie making left Chanel with a dislike for the Hollywood film business and distaste for the film world's culture, which she denounced as "infantile". Chanel's verdict was that "Hollywood is the capital of bad taste … and it is vulgar." Ultimately, her design aesthetic did not translate well to film. The New Yorker speculated that Chanel had left Hollywood because "they told her her dresses weren't sensational enough. She made a lady look like a lady. Hollywood wants a lady to look like two ladies." Chanel went on to design the costumes for several French films, including Jean Renoir's 1939 film La Règle du jeu, in which she was credited as La Maison Chanel. Chanel introduced the left-wing Renoir to Luchino Visconti, aware that the shy Italian hoped to work in film. Renoir was favorably impressed by Visconti and brought him in to work on his next film project.
  • 1927
    Age 43
    In 1927, the Duke of Westminster gave Chanel a parcel of land he had purchased in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin on the French Riviera.
    More Details Hide Details Chanel built her villa here, which she called La Pausa ("restful pause"), hiring the architect Robert Streitz. Streitz's concept for the staircase and patio contained design elements inspired by Aubazine, the orphanage in which Chanel spent her youth. When asked why she did not marry the Duke of Westminster, she is supposed to have said: "There have been several Duchesses of Westminster. There is only one Chanel." In 1921, while in Monte Carlo Chanel became acquainted with Samuel Goldwyn. She was introduced through a mutual friend, the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, cousin to the last czar of Russia, Nicolas II. Goldwyn offered Chanel a tantalizing proposition. For the sum of a million dollars (approximately seventy-five million in twenty-first century valuation), he would bring her to Hollywood twice a year to design costumes for MGM stars. Chanel accepted the offer. Accompanying her on her first trip to Hollywood was her friend Misia Sert.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1923
    Age 39
    In Monte Carlo in 1923, at age forty, Chanel was introduced by Lombardi to the vastly wealthy Duke of Westminster, Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor, known to his intimates as "Bendor".
    More Details Hide Details The Duke of Westminster lavished Chanel with extravagant jewels, costly art, and a home in London's prestigious Mayfair district. His affair with Chanel lasted ten years. The Duke, an outspoken anti-Semite, intensified Chanel's inherent antipathy toward Jews. He shared with her an expressed homophobia. In 1946, Chanel was quoted by her friend and confidant, Paul Morand: Coinciding with her introduction to the Duke, was her introduction, again through Lombardi, to Lombardi's cousin, the Prince of Wales, Edward VIII. The Prince allegedly became smitten with Chanel and pursued her in spite of her involvement with the Duke of Westminster. Gossip had it that he visited Chanel in her apartment and requested that she call him "David", a privilege reserved only for his closest friends and family. Years later, Diana Vreeland, editor of Vogue, would insist that "the passionate, focused and fiercely independent Chanel, a virtual tour de force," and the Prince "had a great romantic moment together".
    In 1923, Vera Bate Lombardi, (born Sarah Gertrude Arkwright), reputedly the illegitimate daughter of the Marquess of Cambridge, afforded Chanel entry into the highest levels of British aristocracy.
    More Details Hide Details It was an elite group of associations revolving around such figures as politician Winston Churchill, aristocrats such as the Duke of Westminster, and royals such as Edward, Prince of Wales.
  • 1922
    Age 38
    In 1922, at the Longchamps races, Théophile Bader, founder of the Paris Galeries Lafayette, introduced Chanel to businessman Pierre Wertheimer.
    More Details Hide Details Bader was interested in inaugurating the sale of the Chanel No. 5 fragrance in his department store. In 1924, Chanel made an agreement with the Wertheimer brothers, Pierre and Paul, directors since 1917 of the eminent perfume and cosmetics house Bourgeois. They created a corporate entity, "Parfums Chanel," and the Wertheimers agreed to provide full financing for production, marketing and distribution of Chanel No. 5. The Wertheimers would receive seventy percent of the profits, and Théophile Bader a twenty percent share. For ten percent of the stock, Chanel licensed her name to Parfums Chanel and withdrew from involvement in all business operations. Displeased with the arrangement, Chanel worked for more than twenty years to gain full control of Parfums Chanel. She said that Pierre Wertheimer was "the bandit who screwed me". One of Chanel's longest enduring associations was with Misia Sert, a notable member of the bohemian elite in Paris and wife of Spanish painter José-Maria Sert. It is said that theirs was an immediate bond of like souls, and Misia was attracted to Chanel by "her genius, lethal wit, sarcasm and maniacal destructiveness, which intrigued and appalled everyone". Both women were convent schooled, and maintained a friendship of shared interests and confidences. They also shared drug use. By 1935, Chanel had become a habitual drug user, injecting herself with morphine on a daily basis, a habit she maintained until the end of her life.
  • 1920
    Age 36
    In the spring of 1920 (approximately May), Chanel was introduced to the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky by Sergei Diaghilev, impresario of the Ballets Russes.
    More Details Hide Details During the summer, Chanel discovered that the Stravinsky family was seeking a place to live, having left the Soviet Union after the war. She invited them to her new home, "Bel Respiro," in the Paris suburb of Garches, until they could find a more suitable residence. They arrived at "Bel Respiro" during the second week of September and remained until May 1921. Chanel also guaranteed the new (1920) Ballets Russes production of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) against financial loss with an anonymous gift to Diaghilev, said to be 300,000 francs. In addition to turning out her couture collections, Chanel threw her prodigious energies into designing dance costumes for the cutting-edge Ballets Russes. Between the years 1923-1937, she collaborated on productions choreographed by Diaghilev and dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, notably Le Train bleu, a dance-opera; Orphée and Oedipe Roi.
  • 1918
    Age 34
    In 1918, Chanel purchased the entire building at 31 rue Cambon, which was situated in one of the most fashionable districts of Paris.
    More Details Hide Details In 1921, she opened what may be considered an early incarnation of the fashion boutique, featuring clothing, hats, and accessories, later expanded to offer jewellery and fragrance. By 1927, Chanel owned five properties on the rue Cambon, encompassing buildings numbered 23 to 31.
    Even after Capel married an English aristocrat, Lady Diana Wyndham in 1918, he did not completely break off with Chanel.
    More Details Hide Details He died in a car accident on 21 December 1919. A roadside memorial at the site of Capel's accident is said to have been commissioned by Chanel. Twenty-five years after the event, Chanel, then residing in Switzerland, confided to her friend, Paul Morand: "His death was a terrible blow to me. In losing Capel, I lost everything. What followed was not a life of happiness, I have to say."
  • 1916
    Age 32
    After one year of operation, the business proved to be so lucrative that in 1916 Chanel was able to reimburse Capel his original investment.
    More Details Hide Details This was her sole decision; she did not consult with Capel. It was in Biarritz that Chanel made the acquaintance of an expatriate aristocrat, the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia. They had a romantic interlude, and maintained a close association for many years afterward. By 1919, Chanel was registered as a couturière and established her maison de couture at 31 rue Cambon, Paris.
  • 1915
    Age 31
    Chanel, determined to re-create the success she had enjoyed in Deauville, opened an establishment in Biarritz in 1915.
    More Details Hide Details Biarritz, situated on the Côte Basque, in proximity to wealthy Spanish clients, had neutral status during World War I, allowing it to become the playground for the moneyed and those exiled from their native countries by the hostilities. The Biarritz shop was installed not as a storefront, but in a villa opposite the casino.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1913
    Age 29
    In 1913, Chanel opened a boutique in Deauville, financed by Arthur Capel, where she introduced deluxe casual clothes suitable for leisure and sport.
    More Details Hide Details The fashions were constructed from humble fabrics such as jersey and tricot, at the time primarily used for men's underwear. The location was a prime one, in the center of town on a fashionable street. Here Chanel sold hats, jackets, sweaters, and the marinière, the sailor blouse. Chanel had the dedicated support of two family members, her sister Antoinette, and her paternal aunt Adrienne, who was of a similar age. Adrienne and Antoinette were recruited to model Chanel's designs; on a daily basis the two women paraded through the town and on its boardwalks, advertising the Chanel creations.
  • 1912
    Age 28
    Chanel's millinery career bloomed once theatre actress Gabrielle Dorziat wore her hats in Fernand Nozière's play Bel Ami in 1912.
    More Details Hide Details Subsequently, Dorziat modelled Chanel's hats again in photographs published in Les Modes.
  • 1910
    Age 26
    Chanel had begun designing hats while living with Balsan, initially as a diversion that evolved into a commercial enterprise. She became a licensed milliner in 1910 and opened a boutique at 21 rue Cambon, Paris, named Chanel Modes.
    More Details Hide Details As this location already housed an established clothing business, Chanel sold only her millinery creations at this address.
  • 1908
    Age 24
    In 1908, Chanel began an affair with one of Balsan's friends, Captain Arthur Edward 'Boy' Capel.
    More Details Hide Details In later years, Chanel reminisced of this time in her life: "two gentlemen were outbidding for my hot little body." Capel, a wealthy member of the English upper class, installed Chanel in an apartment in Paris. and financed her first shops. It is said that Capel's sartorial style influenced the conception of the Chanel look. The bottle design for Chanel No. 5 had two probable origins, both attributable to the sophisticated design sensibilities of Capel. It is believed Chanel adapted the rectangular, beveled lines of the Charvet toiletry bottles he carried in his leather traveling case or she adapted the design of the whiskey decanter Capel used; she so much admired it that she wished to reproduce it in "exquisite, expensive, delicate glass". The couple spent time together at fashionable resorts such as Deauville, but despite Chanel's hopes that they would settle together, Capel was never faithful to her. Their affair lasted nine years.
  • 1906
    Age 22
    In 1906, Chanel was working in the spa resort town of Vichy.
    More Details Hide Details Vichy boasted a profusion of concert halls, theatres and cafes where she hoped to achieve success as a performer. Chanel's youth and physical charms impressed those for whom she auditioned, but her singing voice was marginal and she failed to find stage work. Obliged to find employment, she took work at the "Grande Grille", where as a donneuse d'eau she was one of the females whose job was to dispense glasses of the purportedly curative mineral water for which Vichy was renowned. When the Vichy season ended, Chanel returned to Moulins, and her former haunt "La Rotonde". She now realised that a serious stage career was not in her future. At Moulins, Chanel met the young French ex-cavalry officer and the wealthy textile heir Étienne Balsan. At the age of twenty-three, Chanel became Balsan's mistress, supplanting the courtesan Émilienne d’Alençon as his new favorite. For the next three years, she lived with him in his château Royallieu near Compiègne, an area known for its wooded equestrian paths and the hunting life. It was a lifestyle of self-indulgence; Balsan's wealth and leisure allowed the cultivation of a social set who reveled in partying and the gratification of human appetites, with all the implied accompanying decadence; Balsan lavished Chanel with the beauties of "the rich life"—diamonds, dresses, and pearls. Biographer Justine Picardie, in her 2010 study Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life (Harper Collins), suggests that the fashion designer's nephew, André Palasse, supposedly the only child of her sister Julia-Berthe who had committed suicide, was Chanel's child by Balsan.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1884
    Age 0
    In 1884, he married Jeanne Devolle, persuaded to do so by her family who had "united, effectively, to pay Albert to marry her."
    More Details Hide Details At birth, Chanel's name was entered into the official registry as "Chasnel". Jeanne was too unwell to attend the registration, and Albert was registered as "travelling". With both parents absent, the infant's last name was misspelled, probably due to a clerical error. The couple had five children who survived—two boys and three girls—who lived crowded into a one-room lodging in the town of Brive-la-Gaillarde. When Gabrielle was 12, her mother died of bronchitis at the age of 32. Her father sent his two sons out to work as farm laborers and sent his three daughters to the Corrèze, in central France, to the convent of Aubazine, which ran an orphanage. Its religious order, the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Mary, was "founded to care for the poor and rejected, including running homes for abandoned and orphaned girls". It was a stark, frugal life, demanding strict discipline. At age eighteen, Chanel, too old to remain at Aubazine, went to live in a boarding house set aside for Catholic girls in the town of Moulins.
  • 1883
    Born
    Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel was born in 1883 to an unmarried mother, Eugénie Jeanne Devolle—known as Jeanne—a laundrywoman, in the charity hospital run by the Sisters of Providence (a poorhouse) in Saumur, Maine-et-Loire, France.
    More Details Hide Details She was Jeanne's second child with Albert Chanel; the first, Julia, was born less than a year earlier. Albert Chanel was an itinerant street vendor who peddled work clothes and undergarments, living a nomadic life, traveling to and from market towns. The family resided in rundown lodgings.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
All data offered is derived from public sources. Spokeo does not verify or evaluate each piece of data, and makes no warranties or guarantees about any of the information offered. Spokeo does not possess or have access to secure or private financial information. Spokeo is not a consumer reporting agency and does not offer consumer reports. None of the information offered by Spokeo is to be considered for purposes of determining any entity or person's eligibility for credit, insurance, employment, housing, or for any other purposes covered under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)