In the 20th century, France was known as the home of high fashion and good taste. For this, we can thank Coco Chanel. The French couture designer helped change how the world viewed fashion in the early 20th century. Her designs were simple, clean, and elegant. She did not use fur! Coco Chanel was born on 19 August 1883 in a village, named Saumur, which is located in Central France. From an early age, she showed interest in fashion and designing clothes. After completing her early education, she moved to Paris with her stepmother so that she could pursue her dream of becoming a milliner. At this time, Paris was the centre of world fashion and Coco became acquainted with many people of influence. With their help and support, she received training from prominent designers and started her career as a milliner.
Coco Chanel - The First Female Designer
Coco Chanel was one of the first female fashion designers in history. She was one of the first women to break into male-dominated fields. Chanel worked with many designers and manufacturers throughout her career, enabling her to produce her designs on a larger scale. She was known for her practicality, pushing for functionality and simplicity in her designs. She often employed fabrics such as tweed, flannel, jersey, and denim in order to create more casual, easy-to-wear pieces. She also used synthetic materials, such as rayon and acetate, in order to create more affordable clothing; a practice that was unheard of at the time.
The 1930s: Shaping Fashion
By the 1930s, Chanel had already established herself as a leading voice in the world of fashion. Her designs were simple and elegant. She didn’t like using too much decoration. Instead, she focused on line and fit. Her designs were appropriate for both men and women. She didn’t like gender-specific clothing. And her use of jersey fabric made her clothing more comfortable than the stiff fabrics that were popular at the time. Chanel’s designs revolutionized fashion during the Great Depression. Traditionally, during hard economic times, people would wear more sombre, conservative clothing. Chanel, however, created designs that were appropriate for both formal and informal occasions. She said, “There are no seasons in fashion. There is only good taste.”
The 1940s: Collaboration with Dior
In the 1940s, Chanel worked with designer Christian Dior. Together, they created the “New Look.” The New Look was characterized by full, voluminous skirts, large shoulders, and a high waistline. The idea behind the look was to show off femininity during a time of war. The New Look was very popular. It remained in fashion for at least a decade. However, Chanel soon grew bored with the New Look. She wanted to move away from full, structured silhouettes and bring back more simple designs. She wanted to focus more on the cut of the garment than the fabric. She wanted to focus on “the line” and the “line says it all.” The New Look was not about simplicity. It was about excess.
The 1950s: The Rebirth of Chanel
In 1951, Chanel created her most famous design. She called it “the little black dress.” It featured a simple, straight silhouette with a low-cut neckline. The little black dress was a nod to Chanel’s past as a milliner. It was made of black silk, which was a very luxurious fabric at the time. Chanel continued to design her “little black dress” until the end of her career. It is still one of the most famous designs in fashion history. It is a classic, timeless piece that will never go out of style.
A Final Thought
Coco Chanel was one of the first women to design high-end fashion. She made her mark on fashion history with simple, elegant designs that shifted the focus away from ornamentation. Her designs are still worn today, decades later. Chanel revolutionized fashion by shifting the focus from the fabric to the cut of the garment. She advocated for simplicity, functionality, and comfort. Her designs became more popular during the Great Depression when people favoured simple, affordable clothing. Chanel continued designing simple clothing until her death in 1971. Her designs are still popular today; her influence on fashion is undeniable. Coco Chanel’s designs may be simple, but they’re definitely everlasting!
Coco Chanel died at the age of 87 in her Parisian apartment. Her death was caused by an unfortunate combination of a respiratory infection and complications arising from her obesity. Chanel was a prominent figure of the interwar period, and her name remains synonymous with French couture to this day. She is the only fashion designer listed in the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame, and the only person ever to have been listed on the list in all four categories: dress, evening wear, sportswear, and honours. Throughout her life, Chanel was known for her remarkable achievements in the fashion industry, as well as for her numerous contributions to society as a whole. Her name is forever associated with glamour and elegance, and her legacy lives on to this day.