Coco Chanel is the only fashion designer listed on Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.
103 Facts About Coco Chanel
Coco Chanel stayed in France and was criticized during the war for collaborating with the Nazi-German occupiers and the Vichy puppet regime to boost her professional career.
One of Coco Chanel's liaisons was with a German diplomat, Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage.
In 2011, Hal Vaughan published a biography about Coco Chanel based on newly declassified documents, revealing that she had collaborated directly with the Nazi intelligence service, the Sicherheitsdienst.
Gabrielle Bonheur Coco Chanel was born in 1883 to Eugenie Jeanne Devolle Coco Chanel, known as Jeanne, a laundrywoman, in the charity hospital run by the Sisters of Providence in Saumur, Maine-et-Loire.
Coco Chanel was Jeanne's second child with Albert Chanel; the first, Julia, had been born less than a year earlier.
Albert Coco Chanel was an itinerant street vendor who peddled work clothes and undergarments, living a nomadic life, traveling to and from market towns.
At birth, Coco Chanel's name was entered into the official registry as "Chasnel".
Coco Chanel went to her grave as Gabrielle Chasnel because to correct, legally, the misspelled name on her birth certificate would reveal that she was born in a poor house hospice.
Coco Chanel's father sent his two sons to work as farm laborers and sent his three daughters to the convent of Aubazine, which ran an orphanage.
Coco Chanel said that when her mother died, her father sailed for America to seek his fortune, and she was sent to live with two aunts.
Coco Chanel claimed to have been born a decade later than 1883 and that her mother had died when she was much younger than 11.
Coco Chanel made her stage debut singing at a cafe-concert in a Moulins pavilion, La Rotonde.
Coco Chanel was a poseuse, a performer who entertained the crowd between star turns.
In 1906, Coco Chanel worked in the spa resort town of Vichy.
Coco Chanel realized then that a serious stage career was not in her future.
At Moulins, Coco Chanel met a young French ex-cavalry officer and textile heir, Etienne Balsan.
At the age of twenty-three, Coco Chanel became Balsan's mistress, supplanting the courtesan Emilienne d'Alencon as his new favourite.
In 1908, Coco Chanel began an affair with one of Balsan's friends, Captain Arthur Edward 'Boy' Capel.
Coco Chanel died in a car accident on 22 December 1919.
Coco Chanel had begun designing hats while living with Balsan, initially as a diversion that evolved into a commercial enterprise.
Coco Chanel became a licensed milliner in 1910 and opened a boutique at 21 rue Cambon, Paris, named Chanel Modes.
In 1913, Coco Chanel opened a boutique in Deauville, financed by Arthur Capel, where she introduced deluxe casual clothing suitable for leisure and sport.
Coco Chanel had the dedicated support of two family members, her sister Antoinette, and her paternal aunt Adrienne, who was of a similar age.
Coco Chanel, determined to re-create the success she enjoyed in Deauville, opened an establishment in Biarritz in 1915.
In Biarritz Coco Chanel met an expatriate aristocrat, the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia.
In 1918, Coco Chanel purchased the building at 31 rue Cambon, in one of the most fashionable districts of Paris.
Coco Chanel invited them to her new home, Bel Respiro, in the Paris suburb of Garches, until they could find a suitable residence.
Coco Chanel guaranteed the new Ballets Russes production of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps against financial loss with an anonymous gift to Diaghilev, said to be 300,000 francs.
Coco Chanel developed a romantic relationship with Igor Stravinsky during this time and went on tour around the world with him, unknown to his wife.
In 1924, Coco Chanel made an agreement with the Wertheimer brothers, Pierre and Paul, directors since 1917 of the eminent perfume and cosmetics house Bourjois.
For ten percent of the stock, Coco Chanel licensed her name to Parfums Coco Chanel and withdrew from involvement in business operations.
Later, unhappy with the arrangement, Coco Chanel worked for more than twenty years to gain full control of Parfums Coco Chanel.
Coco Chanel said that Pierre Wertheimer was "the bandit who screwed me".
One of Coco Chanel's longest enduring associations was with Misia Sert, a member of the bohemian elite in Paris and wife of Spanish painter Jose-Maria Sert.
The writer Colette, who moved in the same social circles as Coco Chanel, provided a whimsical description of Coco Chanel at work in her atelier, which appeared in Prisons et Paradis :.
In Monte Carlo in 1923, at age forty, Coco Chanel was introduced by Lombardi to the vastly wealthy Duke of Westminster, Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor, known to his intimates as "Bendor".
In 1946, Coco Chanel was quoted by her friend and confidant, Paul Morand,.
The prince allegedly was smitten with Coco Chanel and pursued her in spite of her involvement with the Duke of Westminster.
Coco Chanel built a villa here, which she called La Pausa, hiring the architect Robert Streitz.
Streitz's concept for the staircase and patio contained design elements inspired by Aubazine, the orphanage where Coco Chanel spent her youth.
Coco Chanel's inability to reinvent the little black dress was a sign of such reality.
Coco Chanel began to design a "less is more" aesthetic.
In 1931, while in Monte Carlo Coco Chanel became acquainted with Samuel Goldwyn.
Coco Chanel was introduced through a mutual friend, the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, cousin to the last tsar of Russia, Nicolas II.
En route to California from New York, travelling in a white train carriage luxuriously outfitted for her use, Coco Chanel was interviewed by Collier's magazine in 1932.
Coco Chanel said that she had agreed to go to Hollywood to "see what the pictures have to offer me and what I have to offer the pictures".
Coco Chanel designed the clothing worn on screen by Gloria Swanson, in Tonight or Never, and for Ina Claire in The Greeks Had a Word for Them.
Coco Chanel introduced the left-wing Renoir to Luchino Visconti, aware that the shy Italian hoped to work in film.
Coco Chanel was the mistress of some of the most influential men of her time, but she never married.
Coco Chanel had significant relationships with the poet Pierre Reverdy and the illustrator and designer Paul Iribe.
Coco Chanel's involvement with Iribe was a deep one until his sudden death in 1935.
Iribe and Coco Chanel shared the same reactionary politics, Coco Chanel financing Iribe's monthly, ultra-nationalist and anti-republican newsletter, Le Temoin, which encouraged a fear of foreigners and preached antisemitism.
In 1936, one year after Le Temoin ceased publication, Coco Chanel veered to the opposite end of the ideological continuum by financing Pierre Lestringuez's radical left-wing magazine Futur.
The Coco Chanel couture was a lucrative business enterprise, employing 4,000 people by 1935.
In 1939, at the beginning of World War II, Coco Chanel closed her shops, maintaining her apartment situated above the couture house at 31 Rue de Cambon.
Coco Chanel said that it was not a time for fashion; as a result of her action, 4,000 female employees lost their jobs.
In closing her couture house, Coco Chanel made a definitive statement of her political views.
Coco Chanel shared with many of her circle a conviction that Jews were a threat to Europe because of the Bolshevik government in the Soviet Union.
Coco Chanel served as diplomat in Paris and was a former Prussian Army officer and attorney general who had been an operative in military intelligence since 1920, who eased her arrangements at the Ritz.
Coco Chanel used her position as an "Aryan" to petition German officials to legalize her claim to sole ownership.
Coco Chanel was not aware that the Wertheimers, anticipating the forthcoming Nazi mandates against Jews had, in May 1940, legally turned control of Parfums Coco Chanel over to Felix Amiot, a Christian French businessman and industrialist.
Coco Chanel hired Rene de Chambrun, Vichy France prime minister Pierre Laval's son-in-law, as her lawyer to sue Wertheimer.
Ultimately, the Wertheimers and Coco Chanel came to a mutual accommodation, renegotiating the original 1924 contract.
On 17 May 1947, Coco Chanel received wartime profits from the sale of Coco Chanel No 5, an amount equivalent to some million in 2022 valuation.
Vaughan establishes that Coco Chanel committed herself to the German cause as early as 1941 and worked for General Walter Schellenberg, chief of the German intelligence agency Sicherheitsdienst and the military intelligence spy network Abwehr at the Reich Security Main Office in Berlin.
Coco Chanel was released in 1951 owing to incurable liver disease and took refuge in Italy.
Coco Chanel paid for Schellenberg's medical care and living expenses, financially supported his wife and family and paid for Schellenberg's funeral upon his death in 1952.
Coco Chanel immediately sought refuge in the deluxe Hotel Ritz, which was used as the headquarters of the German military.
At the time of the French liberation in 1944, Coco Chanel left a note in her store window explaining Coco Chanel No 5 to be free to all GIs.
Coco Chanel visited Madrid in 1943 to convince the British ambassador to Spain, Sir Samuel Hoare, a friend of Winston Churchill, about a possible German surrender once the war was leaning towards an Allied victory.
Coco Chanel's duty was to act as a messenger from Hitler's Foreign Intelligence to Churchill, to prove that some of the Third Reich attempted peace with the Allies.
Chanel and Dincklage were to report to Schellenberg at the RSHA, with a plan that Chanel had proposed to Dincklage: she, Coco Chanel, was to meet Churchill and persuade him to negotiate with the Germans.
When interrogated by British intelligence at the war's end, Schellenberg maintained that Coco Chanel was "a person who knew Churchill sufficiently to undertake political negotiations with him".
The Abwehr had first to bring to France a young Italian woman [Lombardi, who] Coco Chanel was attached to because of her lesbian vices.
Unaware of the machinations of Schellenberg and Coco Chanel, Lombardi was led to believe that the forthcoming journey to Spain would be a business trip exploring the potential for establishing Coco Chanel couture in Madrid.
In September 1944, Coco Chanel was interrogated by the Free French Purge Committee, the epuration.
Some historians claimed that people worried that, if Coco Chanel were forced to testify about her own activities at trial, she would expose the pro-Nazi sympathies and activities of certain top-level British officials, members of the society elite and the royal family.
Maison de Coco Chanel issued a statement, portions of which were published by several media outlets.
Coco Chanel corporate "refuted the claim", while acknowledging that company officials had read only media excerpts of the book.
In 1945, Coco Chanel moved to Switzerland, where she lived for several years, part of the time with Dincklage.
Coco Chanel was convinced that women would ultimately rebel against the aesthetic favoured by the male couturiers, what she called "illogical" design: the "waist cinchers, padded bras, heavy skirts, and stiffened jackets".
When Coco Chanel came out with her comeback collection in 1954, the French press were cautious due to her collaboration during the war and the controversy of the collection.
Coco Chanel carried out her usual routine of preparing the spring catalogue.
Coco Chanel died on Sunday, 10 January 1971, at the Hotel Ritz, where she had resided for more than 30 years.
Coco Chanel's grave is in the Bois-de-Vaux Cemetery, Lausanne, Switzerland.
When Coco Chanel died, the first lady of France, Mme Pompidou, organized a hero's tribute.
The Coco Chanel trademark look was of youthful ease, liberated physicality, and unencumbered sportive confidence.
Coco Chanel continued this trend with Slav-inspired designs in the early 1920s.
Coco Chanel did not stiffen the material or use shoulder pads, as was common in contemporary fashion.
Coco Chanel cut the jackets on the straight grain, without adding bust darts.
Coco Chanel designed the neckline to leave the neck comfortably free and added functional pockets.
Coco Chanel conducted tests with models, having them walk around, step up to a platform as if climbing stairs of an imaginary bus, and bend as if getting into a low-slung sports car.
Coco Chanel wanted to make sure women could do all of these things while wearing her suit, without accidentally exposing parts of their body they wanted covered.
In 1920, Coco Chanel herself vowed that, while observing an audience at the opera, she would dress all women in black.
Coco Chanel boasted that she had enabled the non-wealthy to "walk around like millionaires".
Coco Chanel started making little black dresses in wool or chenille for the day and in satin, crepe or velvet for the evening.
Coco Chanel introduced a line of jewelry that was a conceptual innovation, as her designs and materials incorporated both costume jewellery and fine gem stones.
Coco Chanel's inspirations were global, often inspired by design traditions of the Orient and Egypt.
Originally inspired by the opulent jewels and pearls given to her by aristocratic lovers, Coco Chanel raided her own jewel vault and partnered with Duke Fulco di Verdura to launch a House of Coco Chanel jewelry line.
In 1929, Coco Chanel introduced a handbag inspired by soldiers' bags.
In 2005, the Coco Chanel firm released an exact replica of the original 1955 bag to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its creation.
The chain used for the strap echoed the chatelaines worn by the caretakers of the orphanage where Coco Chanel grew up, whilst the burgundy lining referenced the convent uniforms.