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Style Icons: Why Coco Chanel Is The Undisputed Grande Dame Of Fashion

Coco Chanel is the Undisputed Grande Dame of Luxurious Fashion. The House of Chanel has ruled the Paris runways for almost 100 years.

One of the 1st things I had to see in Paris was the famous House of Chanel on Rue Cambon.  I went to “lick the windows” as the french say, because everything I saw was a feast to my eyes and made me feel like I was eating a delicious bowl of my favorite ice cream.

Coco Chanel - Style Icon - Splendid Habitat

You see, Coco Chanel and I go way way back.  I fell in love with her style the first moment I laid eyes on her designs.  I consider Coco Chanel the unheralded queen of feminine chic fashion.  The House of Chanel, at 31 Rue Cambon in Paris is the epicenter of what I love – timeless, elegant fashion with a dramatic edge.

For 9 decades the House of Chanel has created designs for the modern woman that beautify and symbolize the changes women have experienced socially and politically.  Coco embodied girl power long before it was politically correct.

Timeless Luxury & Modern Fashion Revolutionary – Coco Chanel


Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel

August 19, 1883 – January 10, 1971

A brief bio …

Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel grew up in poverty in Saumur, Maine-et-Loire, France.  Her mother died when she was 12 years old. Chanel and her 2 sisters were sent to live in an orphanage.  At 18 she moved to a boarding home where she learned to sew.  As a young adult she worked as a seamstress and tried to develop a singing career.  It was through singing that she adopted the name Coco.  She met a wealthy textile heir who became her lover and introduced her to his extravagant lifestyle.  Eventually, her relationship with another lover provided financing for her 1st venture into fashion.


Coco Chanel “Chapeau”

Coco opened a millinery shop in 1912 and quickly gained a following with the fashionable elite of Paris.  Her success allowed her to open her fashion house in 1921 which introduced the world to Coco’s vision of fashion for the modern women.  What began as a small millinery shop overtime brought attention from aristocratic clients.  With the help of her lover, business partner Coco’s House of Chanel became one of the most influential fashion brands in the world.

Chanel was a design innovator for the modern woman of her time.   Her design innovations offer a unique understanding of women and their desires for elegant and  extravagant fashion.

Coco’s relentless pursuits sometimes made her the subject controversy.  Her personal relationships with German military officers during WW2 caused quite a scandal.  It’s been reported Chanel used her influence with a love interest member of the Nazi party during the German invasion of France to gain advantages for her business during war times.

Chanel has expanded her design empire beyond couture clothing to include a ready-to-wear line, jewelry, handbags, shoes, and of course perfume.  When she died in 1971 her net worth was estimated at $19 billion, making Coco Chanel one of the richest women in the world.

Here’s a look at iconic signature styles and modern interpretations of Madame Coco Chanel:

Things to know about Coco Chanel and the fashion house she built:

Coco Chanel was:

  • The first designer to market a fragrance.  Chanel No. 5 – Was created and owned by Pierre Wertheimer.  It became the one of the most successful and popular fragrances in the world.  Chanel No. 5 was so profitable that in a settlement after WW2 Wertheimer agreed to pay all of Coco’s living expenses—from the trivial to the large — for the rest of her life.
  • Coco invented the “Little Back Dress”.  It’s still considered a  staple for every woman’s wardrobe even today.
  • First to use jersey fabric for women’s dresses.  Prior to Coco jersey was only used for undergarments, never clothing.
  • First to create super chic costume jewelry

Coco Chanel costume pearls

Chanel costume jewelry 2016

  • Created the iconic quilted leather Chanel handbag with the chain shoulder strap

Chanel quilted handbag

  • Invented the Collarless Tweed Jacket for women
Chanel tweed jacket
PARIS, FRANCE – CIRCA 1960: Romy Schneider at Coco Chanel studio, in Cambon street, in the 1960’s in Paris, France. (Photo by BOTTI/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
  • Famous for ornate hand beading and embroidery on her haute  couture garments.
  • Created the Sailor Look – horizontal striped shirt, bell-bottom pants, crewneck sweaters, and espadrille shoes became fashion must haves when Chanel introduced them.

Coco Chanel Style Icon Sailor look

  • Known for her signature Black & White Color Palette

Coco Chanel knit suit in black & white

  • Suntans – Chanel was a sun worshipper and was known for wearing a suntan.  She made suntanned skin an acceptable symbol of leisure and privilege within elite circles.

Other Chanel style favorites:

  1. Pearls, Chains and Jewelry Pins Oh My!
  2. Shoes & Boots
  3. Handbags, Totes and Monogramed Purses
  4. Diamond Watches
  5. Feminine Details and Bias Cut dresses
  6. Trousers for women
  7. Leather Coats

The attention to detail is amazing In the making of Chanel Spring 2016 Couture Line

In the early 198o’s Karl Lagerfeld took over as principal designer of the House of Chanel.  Lagerfeld also designs at the House of Fendi and his Lagerfeld Womenswear line.

Karl Lagerfield - House of Chanel

Karl Lagerfield is head designer for the Chanel brands

Karl Lagerfield, a fashion icon in his own right, is the design principal at the House of Chanel.  He is credited for reviving both the Ready-to-Wear line and the Haute Couture line.  It’s been Karl’s design genius that makes the House of Chanel a coveted brand today.

The video of the CHANEL Haute Couture Spring Show illustrates all the reasons why this design house has been one of my favorites for more than 20 years.

I hope you have enjoyed this post about the undisputed grande dame of fashion, Coco Chanel.

If you haven’t gotten your fill of the House of Chanel checkout the website

Until next time …

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