Coco Chanel: She was more than just a fashion icon. She made history, inspiring generations of women to create their own paths. She was an icon, a trendsetter, a trailblazer, and one of the most revered fashion designers of all time. Her style has inspired women around the world for decades and will continue to do so for years to come.
Here are some fascinating (and less known) facts about the fashion brand Chanel and its founder, Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel:
Coco Chanel childhood
She was born on 19th August 1883, in Saumur, France, and her birth name was Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel. Not many people know that Coco’s childhood was marked by poverty and misery. When she was only 12 years old, her mother (a laundry woman) died and she was sent to an orphanage convent in Aubazine (Central France). It was a tough time for the little girl but that was the place where she was taught how to sew by the nuns at the convent and it was her childhood that gave her the strength to be a fearless, creative and bold woman.
How the brand Coco Chanel was born
In 1908, at age 23, Coco met Etienne Balsan—a wealthy ex-military officer. She moved in with him and spent the next three years in his chateau. There, out of boredom, she started designing and creating hats—this was her first step in the world of fashion!
In 1909, Gabrielle Chanel became the mistress of Arthur Edward “Boy” Capel, a friend of her previous lover. Her first shop, a millinery store, opened in 1910 and was housed on the ground floor of Arthur’s Parisian flat; they lived there as lovers for nine years after his marriage.
In 1913, Chanel opened her first boutique. It offered deluxe casual clothes made of jersey and tricot. This was a revolution in women’s fashion as these fabrics were used only for men's underwear before. With a prime location on a fashionable street, her boutique quickly became a success. Her sister and her aunt were the first Chanel models—they wore Chanel's clothes as they walked around town dressed in Chanel from head to heels.
Within a few years, in 1916, Chanel's brand was so successful that she gave back to her main sponsor all the money he invested in her.