In honor of the style icon’s 133rd birthday (August 19), here are 10 facts that every Chanel fan should know.
Her story is one of true “rags to riches.”
Though she died a wealthy woman, Gabrielle Chanel was born in a poorhouse, the daughter of a street vendor.
She was raised by nuns.
After her mother passed away, Chanel was sent to an orphanage at the age of 12. It was there that she learned how to sew.
Her first career was singing.
Back when she was known as Gabrielle, Chanel sang atParisian cafes like La Rotunde . The songs, “Ko Ko Ri Ko” and “Qui qu’a vu Coco,” led to her nickname,”Coco.”
She got rich off of inexpensive fabric.
Back in the 1920s, jersey was used primarily to make men’s underwear. Women wore expensive dresses made out of exotic fabrics. Chanel created her styles out of jersey and the rest was history.
Hollywood did not impress her.
The film producer Samuel Goldwyn offered Chanel a contract to Hollywood twice a year and design costumes for starlets. Though some silver screen actresses became clients, she turned it down and dubbed the town “the capital of bad taste.”
She had an affair with a Nazi officer.
During World War II, Chanel was linked to a noted spy, German intelligence officer Baron Hans Günther von Dincklage. Oh, la, la.
Her first perfume, Chanel No. 5, changed the fragrance industry. Introduced in1922, it was one of the first perfumes ever to mix natural and artificial essences. It was also the first fragrance to be named after a designer.
She influenced more than just clothes.
In addition to a new type of perfume, Chanel also inspired many women to adopt other new fashion and and beauty elements like doing away with corsets, sporting the “garçon” hair style, and daring to shorten skirts so that women’s ankles could be seen.
Reinvention was the name of Chanel’s game.
At the age of 71, Chanel reopened her famous fashion house in 1954. It had been closed for 15 years during the war.
She died in style.
Coco Chanel died at the age 88 in 1971 on her bed in a room at the Ritz Hotel in Paris. She had taken up residency there 30 years prior. It’s been reported that her last words to her maid were, “You see, this is how you die.”
See more information on our rare Coco Chanel display at www.millionairegallery.com.