Saturday, January 16, 2010

Designer of the Week- Coco Chanel

So after watching the TV movie Coco Chanel the other day I've had this amazing woman on my mind, so who better to talk about in our Designer of the Week. 
Chanel was born in 1883 in a small peasant village in France.
One of five siblings, Chanel was sent to an orphanage when her mother died of tuberculosis when she was 12. It was here she learned to be a seamstress she developed these skills during school holidays spent with her female aunts. 
Coco moved to the town of Moulins at 18 to try her luck at becoming a cabaret singer, her singing carear never took off but whilst in Moulins she met √Čtienne Balsan, a rich textile heir. Coco became his mistress, a usual occurrence amongst the wealthy in france. While living with Balsan, Chanel began designing hats as a hobby she later left Baslan and took up residency in his Paris home. Chanel opened her first shop in 1913, that later went out of business. Her second shop situated in Britany was funded by Arthur "Boy" Capel, estranged best friend of her former lover √Čtienne Balsan, who Chanel fell in love with.
In 1913, Chanel introduced women’s sportswear at her new boutique in Deauville, it was here during the World War I era women came to accept her view that women were supposed to dress for themselves and not their men.
In 1925, Vera Bate Lombardi, reputedly the illegitimate daughter of the Marquess of Cambridge, became Chanel's muse, and also her liaison to a number of European royal families. Chanel established the English look based upon Lombardi's personal style.
In 1939, at the beginning of World War II, Chanel closed her shops, believing that it was not a time for fashion. In 1945 Chanel moved to Switzerland, eventually returning to Paris and the fashion world in 1954. Her new collection did not have much success with the Parisians; However, it was much applauded by the British and Americans, who became her faithful customers.
Coco had affairs with some of the most influential men of the time, but she never married. The reason may be found in her answer, when asked why she did not marry the Duke of Westminster: "There have been several Duchesses of Westminster. There is only one Chanel.

Not only was Chanel an incredible fashion designer but she was a feminist and social activist in her own right. She fought against the stereotypes women and the lower classes faced, believing in equality for all, she truly was a pioneer so much so she was the only fashion designer in TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people of the 20th Century and she was the first womens sportswear designer to boot! Chanel we salute you lady!


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