Gabrielle Bonheur Coco Chanel was a French fashion designer and businesswoman. She was the founder and namesake of the Chanel brand, a prolific fashion creator, Chanel extended her influence beyond couture clothing, realising her design aesthetic in jewellery, handbags, and fragrance. 5, has become an iconic product and she is the only fashion designer listed on TIME magazines list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. Chanel designed her iconic interlocked-CC monograph, meaning Coco Chanel, using it since the 1920s, Chanel was known for her lifelong determination, ambition, and energy which she applied to her professional and social life. She achieved both financial success as a businesswoman and catapulted to prominence in French high society, thanks to the connections she made through her work. These included many artists and craftspeople to whom she became a patron and her social connections appeared to encourage a highly conservative personal outlook. One of Chanels lovers was a German military officer, Hans Gunther von Dincklage, after the war ended, Chanel was interrogated about her relationship with von Dincklage, but she was not charged as a collaborator. After several years in Switzerland after the war, she returned to Paris, in 2011, Hal Vaughan published a book on Chanel based on newly declassified documents of that era, revealing that she had collaborated with Germans in intelligence activities. One plan in late 1943 was for her to carry an SS separate peace overture to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to end the war and she was Jeannes second child with Albert Chanel, the first, Julia, was born less than a year earlier. Albert Chanel was an itinerant street vendor who peddled work clothes and undergarments, living a life, traveling to. The family resided in rundown lodgings, in 1884, he married Jeanne Devolle, persuaded to do so by her family who had united, effectively, to pay Albert to marry her. At birth, Chanels name was entered into the registry as Chasnel. Jeanne was too unwell to attend the registration, and Albert was registered as travelling, with both parents absent, the infants last name was misspelled, probably due to a clerical error. The couple had five children who survived—two boys and three girls—who lived crowded into a lodging in the town of Brive-la-Gaillarde. When Gabrielle was 12, her mother died of bronchitis at the age of 32 and her father sent his two sons out to work as farm laborers and sent his three daughters to the Corrèze, in central France, to the convent of Aubazine, which ran an orphanage. Its religious order, the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Mary, was founded to care for the poor and rejected and it was a stark, frugal life, demanding strict discipline. Despite the tragedy of this, being placed in the orphanage may have been the best thing for Coco’s future because it is where she learned to sew. At age eighteen, Chanel, too old to remain at Aubazine, later in her life, Chanel would retell the story of her childhood somewhat differently, she would often include more glamorous accounts, which were generally untrue
Chanel in 1920
Caricature of Chanel and Arthur "Boy" Capel by Sem, 1913
Chanel hat worn by Gabrielle Dorziat, Les Modes, May 1912
Chanel (right) in her hat shop, 1919. Caricature by Sem.