You’ve heard of the fashion house of CHANEL,
but do you know her actual story?
Gabrielle Chanel was born in the south of France in 1883, three years before our ClockTower was built.
Chanel claimed to be born in 1893,
shaving a full decade off her age before she died in 1971.
Like her clothing, her life was elegant on the surface but very practical underneath.
She was actually a failed cabaret singer performing as “Coco”, but soon began millinery (hats) and then haute couture, (custom made) eventually creating the concept of prêt-à-porter, known today as ready-to-wear.
Coco Chanel introduced the staples of a modern woman’s wardrobe: slacks for women, little black dresses and very short skirts, collarless jackets and quilted, gold-chained handbags.
To secure funding she needed to open her shops she became the mistress of a flush military man, later replacing him with a wealthy British industrialist when the costs of her empire expanded.
An eminently practical woman, she kept working until the day she she died and Karl Lagerfeld assumed her role of chief designer.
She was right, by the way, about being copied.
The “Nasty Gal™” jumpsuit worn by Taylor Swift at the Billboard Music Awards was a direct knock-off from the Balmain 2015 collection.
Nasty Gal got all the publicity.
The House of Balmain, for the moment, is being silent.