December 09, 2022 2 min read

Coco Chanel – Icon, Iconoclast, Feminist

The woman who defined a timeless trend that is still in vogue today.

She was one of the most influential and memorable designers of the 20th century. She revolutionized the fashion industry and was a trailblazer in the world of fashion and couture. Her style was revolutionary and she left an indelible mark on the fashion and culture industry.

One woman’s accomplishment is an accomplishment for all women. We can support other women, mentor one another, elevate one another and ensure our voices are heard at the table. As a result, on Fridays, we make sure to celebrate women who inspire us.

This week, we will talk about an iconic woman in the 1900s - Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, known as Coco Chanel. How she transformed the fashion industry to oppose women's repression.

“I make fashion women can live in, breath in, feel comfortable in, and look younger in.” She favored jersey. An inexpensive fabric, it created loose but well-fitting lines around a woman’s body and had, up until then, only been used to make men’s underwear. Hence, she revolutionized women's casual wear with the use of jersey fabrics and took inspiration from sports and sailing to create clothing women could move freely in.

 

She introduced a practical longer strap so that the bag could be carried on the shoulder, leaving the hands free. The chain used for the strap echoed the chatelaines worn by the caretakers of the orphanage where Chanel grew up, the burgundy lining referenced the convent uniforms.

She was one of the pioneers of women's pants, if not for her, women might still have been wearing skirts and dresses only. For instance, the wearing of “male attire” such as trousers, was prohibited in many places in the late 19th century. But during the war, many working women had worn them for practical purposes.

 

She helped women to say goodbye to corsets and other uncomfortable garments by introducing the Legendary Chanel suit with a collarless jacket and well-fitted skirt. It was a radical act. Chanel was seizing all that such clothing represented – power, privilege, authority – and re-defining them as unapologetically female.

 

She also introduced the Little Black Dress during the Great Depression Era when simple and affordable was the key. This dress allowed women to remain elegant without breaking the bank.

Despite being born into poverty and becoming an orphan abandoned by her father, Chanel has really inspiring attitude that all of us should know and follow. She resisted limitations and encouraged women to do the same. She was able to rise above her circumstances and become one of the most influential designers in history.

Kendra Gan
Kendra Gan


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