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Coco Chanel - Designer Profile

Coco Chanel was born under the name Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel in Saumur, France during 1883. She always lied about her age, however, and said that she was born in 1893 instead. When Gabrielle’’s mother died when she was six years old, her father was left to raise five children by himself. He sent them all away to relatives, and Gabrielle found herself at a Catholic orphanage. It was here that she learned to do seamstress work. During her school vacations, she learned from others how to sew even better and when she was of age, Gabrielle left the orphanage. She got a job with a tailor.

Instead of telling the truth about her childhood, Coco Chanel would lie about it later on in life. Her story was that her mother had died, her father had sailed for the United States, and she had been sent to live with two cruel aunts. The reason that she lied so much was because she wanted to avoid the stigma that was associated with being in poverty during this time.

Gabrielle sang at cafes and halls for a short period of time. Many of the men from the army would come to watch her. She was given the nickname “Coco” by them. Over time, the name stuck. During World War I, Coco would become a mistress to a military officer who was a very wealthy man. It was a blessing in disguise for her, because this is where she was able to find the connections that she needed to open her own shop in Paris during 1910.

In the 1920′’s, Coco Chanel gained a lot of recognition because she was the first to use jersey for women’’s clothing. It provided them with the relaxed appearance that they desired. Women no longer had to opt for the corset closing that was so restricting.

Coco Chanel herself was very fashionable. One of the trends that she is noted for beginning is the bob hairstyle. She also was very tan. In a sense, Coco Chanel embraced what is the current style now. Coco Chanel released her signature fragrance, Chanel No. 5 during 1922. It remains popular to this day.

Some of the styles that Coco Chanel is known for introducing to the world include the “little black dress,” costume jewelry, bell-bottoms for women, belted sweaters, pea coats, and boxy cardigan suits. Some of the stars at the time, such as Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Liz Taylor, and Grace Kelly, were big fans of Coco Chanel’’s designs.

In 1971, Coco Chanel died in Switzerland. She is one of the only people in the entire fashion industry who is considered to be one of the most 100 influential people of the 20th century. Once she died, her company was directed by Karl Lagerfeld and continues to live on to this day.

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