The Chanel name is ubiquitous in the world of luxury, fashion and beauty, with much credit due to its founder, Coco Chanel, who was born 132 years ago. In honor of her Aug. 19 birthday, we take a look back at the iconic designer's legacy.
Born Gabrielle Boheur Chanel, she only later earned the nickname Coco as a singer at Moulin Rouge-esque cafes. When Chanel was 11, her mother died from bronchitis, and she was sent by her father to a convent where she learned to sew. She turned this skill into a career by opening a boutique in 1910.
Today, her brand consists of high fashion clothes, bags and perfume, but Chanel first started as a hat designer. She then expanded to casual clothing, using innovative fabrics such as jersey and tricot, which she found inexpensive and flattering on women.
She went on to create many womenswear staples that endured into the next century. Among her iconic designs were the little black dress and purses with straps, which she conceived to liberate women tired of carrying their bags.
"Chanel dominated the Paris fashion world in the 1920s and at the height of her career was running four business enterprises -- a fashion house, a textile business, perfume laboratories and a workshop for costume jewelry," the New York Times wrote of the designer.
Chanel was 87 when she died in 1971 at the Hotel Ritz in Paris, where she lived for more than 30 years. She is remembered by friends for her wit, so to help celebrate her birthday, here are some quotes from the designer, compiled from Goodreads and Brainyquote.
1. “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”
2. “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.”
3. “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”
4. “There are people who have money and people who are rich.”
5. “Fashion is architecture: It is a matter of proportions.”
6. “Don't spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.”
7. “Elegance is refusal.”
8. “Fashion is made to become unfashionable.”
9. “Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.”
10. “My friends, there are no friends.”