Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel
by Melanie from Fredericksburg
"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."
|The Young Gabrielle Chanel
When I think of a hero I think of someone who has made it on their own, someone who stands up for what they believe in, someone who made a significant change when one was needed. Someone like Coco Chanel. Coco Chanel completely redesigned the way women dressed during the 20th Century. She took her dreams and turned them into reality on her own, and liberated women from their common stereotypical uniform.
Gabrielle Chanel, as she was known as before she became a leading lady in the fashion industry, was born in France in 1883 and grew up in an orphanage. Life wasn't easy for her, but she followed her dreams of becoming a clothing designer. "She couldn't afford the fashionable clothes of the period--so she rejected them and made her own" (Time magazine). She opened her first, and now legendary, shop at 31 rue Cambon just outside Paris France in partnership with her uncle. Gabrielle Chanel saved up money for starting the store by performing at the music hall. The store displayed men's pullover sweaters, sailor jackets, and straight skirts which caught the attention of everyone who walked past the window.
Back in the 1920's women dressed conservatively and were still thought to be less then men. It was Coco Chanel who took her wild ideas of fashion and ran with them. Her first designer item to be publicly known for was her little black dress. She designed this dress using a jersey fabric--which was, for its time, stunning. She used pearls, jewels, and lace to turn an ordinary item of clothing into an extraordinary piece of art. Gabrielle Chanel was later critically acclaimed for her women's business suits, which turned the fashion industry upside down. She had done something no one else had ever dared to try--to turn clothing designed for men and making it a unisex fashion. Her emotions, thoughts, and expressions were all displayed in her clothing. She didn't care about what people thought or if her styles would be accepted, and it showed in her innovative and spontaneous designs.
Once Gabrielle was on top of the fashion charts, she didn't give up. She continued with her creative ideas and expanded her line by adding jewelry and her still-famous Chanel No. 5 perfume. She continued her fashion line even as she grew older. This is just another reason why Gabrielle Chanel has inspired people to continue to make a difference.
She showed the world her passion for fashion and wasn't afraid of failing. She showed women that they had the freedom of expression through their clothes and they didn't need to be limited to the way others thought they should look, that the only limit that exists is the one that lay within you. This is why Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel is my hero.
- A time line of Coco Chanel's life and information on products. (The website is available in a number of languages, including English and French, just by selecting the "other languages" link at the bottom of the page.)
- Good Biography
- Few pictures and short biography