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August 19, 1883

“Fashion fades, only style remains the same.” Coco Chanel

Gabrielle Chanel, French fashion designer is born.

Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel was a French fashion designer and businesswoman. She was the founder and namesake of the Chanel brand. She was on TIME Magazine’s time list of 100 most influential people of the 20th Century

Coco Chanel – Fashion Designer – Associated Links:

Coco Chanel: The Definition of a Self- Made Woman – Sophisticate in the Suburbs™

As a child Chanel and her sisters sewed together  scraps of newspaper so that they might have a book to read. The same sewing she did as a child yielded her as an estimated adult  $160 Million a year. Born in a hovel, she died in a room at the Hotel Ritz in Paris  with a net worth approximating  $1.9 Billion.

No one can do it alone, and she was no exception.  In the beginning the love of her life Arthur “Boy” Capel loaned her $300,000 to begin a hat making business. When she found out, she was determined to pay him back. Her pride and desire to be self-sufficient came to the forefront at that moment. With the profits of her Company, she fulfilled her promise and paid him in full within a year.

“Gabrielle Chanel broke the corsets of convention that bound women of yesterday,
to create the modern woman of today.” Sophisticate in the Suburbs™

Gabrielle Chanel was self-made not because she created and sewed her own designs that changed women fashion forever, but because she created her own life.  From an orphan,  to an aspiring singer and actress, to utilizing her talent for being a seamstress she ended up having the financial footing to equal enough to date Hugh Grosvenor the 2nd Duke of Westminster. Chanel did it all with determination, vision, and passion.

Forget Hubert de Givenchy,  the designer behind the creation of the little black dress is Gabrielle Chanel.

Gabrielle Chanel not only created the little black dress, she created the color black. Before her, people wore black in mourning. Chanel made wearing black acceptable, professional, fashionable, sexy, and even desirable.

She made the clothing that women today take for granted. Chanel created fashions that have lasted 100 years and that will last another 100 years. The famous Chanel suit and the little black dress aside, every time a woman wears a button down shirt, a blazer, silk pajamas with pants, a Breton blue striped boatneck shirt, a suit, a black tie or any tie, it is because of Gabrielle Chanel.

Chanel cherished simplicity.

What was the formula the chemist and perfumer used who created “Chanel No. 5”? Formula No. 5. Chanel released the perfume on the fifth day of the fifth month of the year. She did not believe in silly names or frivolity. Direct and to the point, simplicity and practicality above everything else.,

The biggest paradox was for a woman who felt so alone, was that she was admired by millions, and will be remembered for generations.

Alone. That is how the book “The Allure of Chanel” by Paul Morand, begins and ends. Although, instead of it being a tragedy her ending  was a success. Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel felt alone and that was because she was. She was singular, a legend, and established a Company that will go on forever.

She never married and did not have children. She did however fall in love.

I feel as if “Coco Chanel” was similar to something like Sophisticate in the Suburbs™, an alter ego. After everything I’ve read about her I believe deep in my heart that the “CC” in her logo represented not “Coco Chanel” but “Chanel Capel” .  Two people forever interlinked, woven together, inseparable, and connected for all time.

When the love of her life died she was lost. I believe her grief underlined the creative inspiration that kept her going. It was her frustration of the chains or corsets that previously bound women that were the threads that created the clothes that made her legendary. She wasn’t married to her work, work was the love of her life.

Vision and passion were the same for Gabrielle Chanel

Age did not stop her. She did not retire. For her, she continually wanted to be the best. When she moved to Switzerland after World War II, Dior brought in fashion of bows and lace skirts to women’s fashion. Everything Chanel had tried to change for women was being destroyed. At 71, she came back to France and in defiance of the fashion of the day created the famous Chanel suit. Chanel sewed and worked until the very day she died in 1971 at 87 years old.  Chanel earned every dollar she made and deserved every compliment she was given.

“The Allure of Chanel” is written in her own words but written down by Paul Morand. Her story is what she thinks, not what she did. Humility, for someone who accomplished so much and who started with so little.

In the end, at a time when women didn’t have the right to vote, she created a career and a new life. Gabrielle Chanel was the very definition of self-made because circumstances did not define her, no one defined her except herself. She not only made clothing but she made herself.

Chanel fought for her freedom and independence with a needle and thread.

In the end, she  became and still is an example for all women. In life, in business, and in fashion  she created the modern woman.

Link to Photo Credit: Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel in 1910

Disclaimer: This content was prepared by the author in her personal capacity. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, opinion, or position of their employer.

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