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10 Things You Didn't Know About Coco Chanel

March 30, 2017 3 min read

coco chanel
When you hear Coco Chanel's name, what do you think? Outspoken candor, impeccable fashion sense... her impact on fashion, and one could also argue feminism, is undeniable. From the little black dress to the instantly recognizable quilted handbag, she came along at precisely the right time in fashion history. She ushered in the age of modern dressing just after World War I by doing away with pale skin, corsets, and floor-length hemlines. Instead, she introduced knee-length jersey knit dresses that allowed women to move freely. She sported a tan, loved being outdoors, never married, and reflected womanhood in a way never before seen. The main part of her allure is that she lived life on her own terms and wasn't afraid to speak her mind. There is abundant legend and lore surrounding Coco Chanel, and one would expect no less from such a multi-faceted woman. So, in honor of this legendary luminary, here are 10 facts that you may not have known about Coco Chanel:  

1. Coco Chanel was a Leo.

The best kind of Christmas ornaments... #Chanel #XMAS14

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  Gabrielle Chanel was a Leo, born on August 19, 1883. Her astrological sign is the basis for the lion head motif that pops up periodically on Chanel clothing and accessories.  

2. She was an orphan.

She was born in the city of Aubazine and was sent to live in a convent orphanage after her mother died. Her father was still alive, but he was too poor and transient to take care of her.  

3. Nuns taught her how to sew.

#ChanelHauteCouture #ChanelAteliers #PFW A post shared by CHANEL (@chanelofficial) on
  The nuns in the orphanage taught her how to sew. She aged out of the orphanage when she was 18 and was sent to a finishing school  in the nearby city of Moulins. After completing school, she worked as a seamstress while performing on stage at night.  

4. She didn't start out wanting to be a fashion designer.

In her early years, she moonlighted as a singer for off-duty soldiers. This was where she acquired the nickname she despised: Coco. It was taken from a song that she used to sing about a rooster and was frequently shouted from the audience when she was onstage.  

5. Chanel wasn't one to settle down.

She began her long-term friendship and liaison with French aristocrat Etienne Balsan during her time as a singer. She later fell in love with his friend Arthur "Boy" Capel and maintained relationships of varying degrees with both men. Together, Balsan and Capel funded her first shops. She never married.  

6. There is mysterious meaning behind CC logo.

Some think that the CC logo is based on the two names: Chanel and Capel, rather than Coco Chanel. This makes sense since she disliked her nickname. Chanel designed the logo herself but never used it. Karl Lagerfeld dug it out of the company archives shortly after he became Creative Director in 1983.  

7. She was fastidious about cleanliness.

Chanel was a huge fan of bathing and did so every day, which at the time was a lot more often than most people. The smell of soap was one of her inspirations when she created Chanel No. 5.  

8. Why her handbags are perfect for cocktail parties:

Gabrielle Chanel was a chain smoker, which partly inspired her Classic Flap handbag design. She wanted a long shoulder strap so that she could be hands-free to smoke a cigarette and hold a drink while socializing.  

9. She lived in what is now one of the poshest hotel rooms in the world.

The Chanel suite at the Ritz Paris, where she lived the last years of her life, rents for an average of $20,000 per night.  

10. Her quotes are some of the best parts of her legacy.

Gabrielle Chanel wasn't one to mince words. Our favorite:
The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.

Coco Chanel deservedly earned her icon status. She was a scrappy orphan who pulled herself up from nothing and liberated herself, and women everywhere, through fashion. Her jersey knits and little black dresses revolutionized what we wear, and were instrumental in freeing ladies from the constraints of corsetry. Viva la Coco!  


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