Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday Mieography

Because I watched a movie about her life early this week. I give you Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel.

She was born the second daughter of a traveling salesman, and his wife, in a "poorhouse". She had five siblings. When she was twelve, her mother died of tuberculosis, and her father left the family to find work. She spent the next seven years in an orphanage, where she learned to be a seamstress. She left the orphanage at eighteen, and took a job with a local tailor. She met a young millionaire playboy whom was quite taken with her, and lavished her with gifts, diamonds, pearls, dresses. While living with him, she began designing hats as a hobby. When it became apparent he would not be marrying her, she left him, and went to Paris to open her own shop. Unfortunately, her first venture failed, and before long she was asked to surrender her properties. Lucky for her, she was reunited with an old friend, Arthur "Boy" Capel. They soon fell in love. He assisted her in opening a second shop, which was a success, after she got her hats to be worn by a very successful french actress. In 1913, she opened a new shop in Deauville, and branched out into clothing. She felt it important that women dress for themselves, and not for men. Her business continued to flourish, and before long she was enjoying a very successful career in fashion. She was instrumental in helping to design the "flapper" image, and her classic jacket is still a staple of fashion today. In 1921 she came out with her first, signature fragrance, Chanel No. 5. It was the first perfume to have a designers name attatched to it. Boy died, and after his death, she designed her first, official "little black dress", for herself, initially, but now, that little black dress is synonymous with fashion.
At the beginning of World War II, Coco closed her shops. She did not think it was a time for fashion. She took up residence at the Ritz hotel in Paris, where she loved for more than thirty years, even through the Nazi occupation in Paris. She managed this by having an affair with a high ranking German. This did not work out so well for her, and, she was later arrested for war crimes, though she never went to trial. In 1945 she moved to Switzerland, though she eventually moved back to Paris in 1954. Her first collectio back was not very successful, the Parisiens had not forgotten her relationship with the Nazi spy. The Americans liked it, however.
She did regain her footing in the fashion world, and continued her success. She died in Paris, in 1971 at age eighty seven, in her private suite in the Ritz. She was buried in Swizerland.


CDB said...

My mother wore Chanel No. 5 my entire life. I learned so much from your blog today! She was gorgeous.

Bubblewench said...

That is pretty amazing! I liked this one very much!

sybil law said...

I watched some movie about her not long ago, too!
And we also have her to thank for the tanning trend. :)

Daryl said...

Her purses are to die for ....someday I hope to own one of jackets ... saving up

Mary said...

My mother loves Chanel No. 5. The scent of it makes me remeber being a little girl and secretly plying with the things on my mom's vanity.

Great post!

Anonymous said...

She is really intersting.

Thanks for sharing.

bernthis said...

She was in bed with a German. I'm Jewish and now I've tossing all my FAKE Chanels in the garbage

The Superfluous Blogger said...

AAAh you know, it's just a thing she did to survive.

Are any of us sure we *haven't* dated Nazi spies? REALLY sure?

Oh...right...we probably are.