Sunday, April 5, 2009

Fashion Designer Coco Chanel

"Fashion is not simply a matter of clothes. Fashion is in the air, born upon the wind. One intuits it. It is in the sky and on the road."

Such wonderful lines came from Coco Chanel in a powerful tone, expressing her take on Fashion and its range. Born on the 19th of August, 1883, in one of Loire's comfortable towns, Saumur in Southern France, Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel had made a humble beginning, facing various trials and tribulations. But she had the God-Given Stamina to stand, no matter how bad things looked. She was a woman of character who listened to her heart and acted accordingly. She pushed the range of Fashion to stretched-out corners, creating unique Fashion history.
Coco Chanel took advantage of her early difficulties and aspired to pursue a radically different lifestyle, first on the stage where she acquired the nickname "Coco", and then as a milliner, commencing her revolution against society by aiming at the head with hats. Her social connections with the male admirers in the course of her career gave her key financial assistance in opening up a shop in 1913 in Paris, followed by another in the resort town of Deauville and in Biarritz. Chanel's shops quickly acquired dedicated clientele, selling hats and a fashionable raincoats and jackets. Most of Chanel's clothing was made of jersey, an unusual fabric yet inspired. The fabric draped well and suited Chanel's designs, which were practical and simple, often inspired by men's wear. In fact, she gave new face to the looks of women by mixing up the vocabulary of male and female clothes. Her clothes possessed a feeling of hidden luxury that comes from inside.
The kind of fashion that she was adopting did not, in any way, conform to the corset fashion which was popular in the previous decades. One can see how her style evolved out of necessity and defiance. She couldn't afford the fashionable clothes of the period — so she rejected them and made her own, using, say, the sports jackets and ties that were everyday male attire around the racetrack, where she was climbing her first social ladders. Coco herself was dressed in mannish clothes and adapted more comfortable clothes which other women of her times also found liberating.
Her hats were worn by celebrated French actresses, which built her reputation to higher grounds. Her first aristocratic client was Marthe, Countess de Gounaut-Biron, daughter of American Diplomat, John George Alexander Leishman. She liberated the minds of women to such an extent that they realised they had to dress for themselves, and not solely for their men.
Furthermore, the iconic Chanel Jacket can be regarded as encapsulating in miniature the characteristics of her design philosophy. A Chanel couture jacket has numerous design and construction details that distinguish it from a tailored jacket as traditionally constructed. Most of her fashions had a staying power, and didn't change much from year to year or even generation to generation. By the mid '20s, Chanel's comfortable and practical "working costume" designs flourished. Coco Chanel also designed stage costumes for such plays as Cocteau's Antigone (1923) and Oedipus Rex (1937) and film costumes for several movies, including Renoir's La Regle de Jeu. Katharine Hepburn starred in the 1969 Broadway musical, "Coco" based on the life of Coco Chanel.
It was in the 1920s that Coco Chanel introduced her first signature fragrance, Chanel No. 5, the first perfume to have a designer's name attached to it, which set the standard for successive designers to do the same. So it was clear that Coco Chanel was not just a Fashion Designer, but also an innovator. Chanel No. 5 enjoyed tremendous success since its introduction and is the best selling scent in the world.
In 1926, Coco Chanel introduced her signature "little black dress". Her intentions with this dress was versatility, affordability and accessibility to the widest market possible and in neutral colour. Vogue called it "Chanel's Ford" and said that the little black dress would become "a sort of uniform for all women of taste". And today, the little black dress is considered essential to a complete wardrobe by many women and fashion observers, who believe it as a 'rule of Fashion'. The dress is simple yet elegant.
Not only is Chanel known for her little black dress and her No. 5 fragrance, but also her classic and timeless suits, shoes, purses and jewelleries. Her designs help define women's fashion. Looking at her clothes is like looking at her very own self. She defined Fashion so well from her designs that she gave herself a signature of her own which could never go out of style. Sophistication plays much of an important part in describing Coco Chanel and her designs which is the exact reason why we fall in love with her clothes over and over again. Moreover, Chanel's clothings give the wearer that feeling of confidence for they are designed with honesty and dedication. Her sharp mind readily perceived everything that is needed in building her empire, from her savvy use of logos to her wonderful conception of the power of personality.
Throughout the '20s, Chanel's social, sexual and professional progress continued, and her acknowledged superiority grew to the status of legend. By the early '30s, she had been courted by Hollywood, gone and come back. She had almost married one of the richest men in Europe, the Duke of Westminster; when she didn't, her explanation was, "There have been several Duchesses of Westminster. There is only one Chanel."
Coco Chanel left this world on the 10th day of January, 1971 in her private suite at the Hôtel Ritz, Paris, leaving a legacy worth of millions. Gabrielle "Coc
o" Chanel (1883-1971) may have very well been the most influential and innovative fashion designer to date. As Christian Dior put it: "With a black pullover and ten rows of pearls she revolutionized fashion."

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