Friday, November 30, 2012

Coco Chanel: Fight Against Corsets

Full name:                             Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel

Birth:                                     August 19, 1883

Place of Birth:                       Saumur, France

Death:                                    January 10, 1971

Place of Death:                      Paris, France

                Coco was born in the workhouse in the Loire Valley where her unmarried mother worked, although she asserted that she was born in Auvergne. Her mother died when she was six years old, and the young Chanel was sent to the orphanage of the Catholic monastery of Aubazine, where she learned the trade of a seamstress.

                Her abilities as a seamstress improved during her vacations with her relatives in the provincial capital of Moulins. It was during a brief stint as a singer in cafes and concert halls that Gabrielle adopted the name Coco, a nickname given to her by local soldiers who went to watch her.

                World War I led her to move to the resort town of Deauvile, where Chanel became the mistress of a rich ex-military officer and textile heir Etienne Balsan in 1908. At the age of 23, she became his mistress and moved into his chateau, where she lived for three years. It was here that she started designing and creating hats as a diversion, which then turned into a commercial venture.

                She then started a relationship with a wealthy English Industrialist called Arthur Edward 'Boy' Capel who was a friend of Balsan. The relationship lasted nine years and in 1919, the single most devastating event of her life occurred when Capel was killed in a car accident. She commissioned a roadside memorial at the site of the accident.

                During the 1920s, Coco Chanel became the first designer to create loose women's jersey, traditionally used for men's underwear, creating a relaxed style for women ignoring the stiff corseted look of the time. They soon became very popular with clients, a post-war generation of women for whom the corseted restricted clothing seemed old-fashioned and impractical. Coco Chanel's bobbed hair, bright red lips and outspoken manner also broke the mould. This smoking, outspoken woman never married -although she had relations with the English industrialist Arthur "Boy" Capel - who lent her the money to buy Rue Cambon - Igor Stravinsky and the second Duke of Westminster Hugh "Bendor" Grosvenor, the richest man in Europe.

                In 1922, she launched the fragrance Chanel No. 5 and Pierre Wertheimer became her business partner, and reputedly her lover.

                During World War II, Chanel was a nurse, although her post-war popularity was greatly diminished by her affair with a Nazi officer during the conflict and she moved to Switzerland to escape the controversy.

                Coco Chanel worked until her death in 1971 at the age of 88, spending her last moments in the style she had become accustomed to at her opulent private apartment in The Ritz.

                Fashion fades, only style remains the same."

                "Fashion has become a joke. The designers have forgotten that there are women inside the dresses. Most women dress for men and want to be admired. But they must also be able to move, to get into a car without bursting their seams! Clothes must have a natural shape."

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