On August 19, 1883, fashion designer Coco Chanel, known for her streamlined chic styles, was born in Saumur, France. Her designs would forever free women from the constraining corseted fashions of the Victorian Age.
Abandoned by her parents at a young age, she grew up in an orphanage where nuns taught her how to sew. This skill coupled with her revolutionary eye for fashion would become her ticket to fame and fortune.
After a brief stint as a singer, where she picked up the nickname Coco (her given name was Gabrielle), Chanel opened up her first Paris hat shop in 1910. Her revolutionary use of the jersey fabric, once only relegated to sportswear and undergarments, would forever change women’s fashion. Basing her styles on the philosophy that “luxury must be comfortable, other wise it is not luxury,” the post-World War I woman now had a wardrobe to match her modern sensibilities. The tweed suit, the little black dress, two-toned pumps, quilted bags, and the first designer fragrance (Chanel No. 5), revolutionized the fashion world and are still staples in any fashionable woman’s closet.
Coco Chanel was a modern woman when it came to romance as well. Although she had many lovers, Chanel never married, once saying, “I never wanted to weigh more heavily on a man than a bird.” Chanel died on January 10, 1971 at her Hotel Ritz Paris apartment.
A decade after her death, Karl Lagerfeld took over the company to continue the Chanel legacy. The brand, with its iconic CC monograph, now sells $3 billion dollars in products today. Chanel was right when she said, “Fashion changes, but style endures.”