Fashion designer Coco Chanel is famous for her timeless designs, trademark suits and little black dresses. In the 1920s, she launched her first perfume and eventually introduced the Chanel suit and the little black dress, with an emphasis on making clothes that were more comfortable for women. She herself became a much revered style icon known for her simple yet sophisticated outfits paired with great accessories, such as several strands of pearls.
Coco Chanel was born Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel on August 19, 1883, in Saumur, France. Her early years were anything but glamorous. At age 12, after her mother’s death, Chanel was put in an orphanage by her father, who worked as a peddler.
Chanel was raised by nuns who taught her how to sew — a skill that would lead to her life’s work. Her nickname came from another occupation entirely. During her brief career as a singer, Chanel performed in clubs in Vichy and Moulins where she was called “Coco.” Some say that the name comes from one of the songs she used to sing, and Chanel herself said that it was a “shortened version of cocotte, the French word for 'kept woman,'” according to an article in The Atlantic.
Beginnings of a Fashion Empire
Around the age of 20, Chanel became involved with Etienne Balsan, who offered to help her start a millinery business in Paris. She soon left him for one of his wealthier friends, Arthur “Boy” Capel. Both men were instrumental in Chanel’s first fashion venture.
Opening her first shop on Paris’s Rue Cambon in 1910, Chanel started out selling hats. She later added stores in Deauville and Biarritz and began making clothes.
In the 1920s, Chanel took her thriving business to new heights. She launched her first perfume, Chanel No. 5, which was the first to feature a designer’s name. Perfume “is the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion. . . . that heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure,” Chanel once explained.
Iconic Designs: Chanel Suit & Little Black Dress
In 1925, Chanel introduced the now legendary Chanel suit with collarless jacket and well-fitted skirt. Her designs were revolutionary for the time—borrowing elements of men’s wear and emphasizing comfort over the constraints of then-popular fashions. She helped women say goodbye to the days of corsets and other confining garments.
Another 1920s revolutionary design was Chanel’s little black dress. She took a color once associated with mourning and showed just how chic it could be for evening wear.
According to biography.com