Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel is perhaps the most well-known fashion designer of all time. She
was a leading French modernist designer, whose patterns of simplicity and style revolutionised women’s
clothing. Up until the First World War, women’s clothing had been quite restrictive and tended to involve full-length skirts which were impractical for many activities.
Coco Chanel helped create women’s clothing that was simpler and more practical. She also introduced trousers and suits for women
– something which had not been done before. She was the only designer to be listed in the Time 100 most influential people of the Twentieth Century.During the 1920s,
in particular, Coco Chanel left a lasting mark on women’s fashion and design.
Most sources suggest Gabrielle Chanel was born in 1883, though this was a closely guarded fact – with Coco not keen on revealing her birth date.
Her mother was divorced and her upbringing was marked by poverty and uncertainty. Aged 12, her mother died, and her father sent his three daughters including
Gabrielle to a convent in Correze. At the age of 18, she left the convent and moved to Moulins. She gained work as a seamstress and pursued a secondary career
singing at cabaret events, however, her singing was not good enough to enable a stage career. By 1919, Chanel was able to open her first boutique in
Paris on 31 rue Cambon, at the heart of the most fashionable area of Paris.
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