Coco Chanel

In: People

Coco Chanel

Gabrielle Chanel was born in the French town of Saumur on the 19th of August 1883. She was one of 5 children and when her mother died; her father couldn’t manage on his own so the girls went to an orphanage and the boys to work on a farm. Gabrielle stayed at the orphanage and visited grandparents on holidays until 1900 when she moved in with them. She went to a local convent school with her aunt Adrienne who was almost the same age as Gabrielle, she remained a valued friend. Gabrielle and Adrienne learned to sew at the convent so were able to get jobs as dress makers when they had finished school. Gabrielle’s earliest ambition was to be on stage and during her time off from work she was a regular cafe and bar singer, through this she gained the nick name Coco from singing her own version of a song called ‘Qui qu’a vu coco?’. Through this circuit Chanel met Etienne Baslan, a wealthy military officer; she became his mistress and went to live with him when she was aged 25. Chanel’s appearance was always very modest and neat, very different to that of Baslan’s rich friends who were always very made up with lace and frills. Baslan owned alot of horses and was into horse racing, Chanel learnt to ride whilst living with him, women traditionally wore side saddle skirts yet Chanel could be found in the same masculine clothes as the stable hands, first showing her rebellion in fashion which eventually translated in her collections. One of Chanels passions was trimming her own shop bought hats and creating a really individual and unique design, these soon became of interest to Baslans rich guests and this was the starting point for Chanels career in fashion. Emilienne d’Aterncon, a socialite, wore one of Chanels hats to the races and this brought her more attention than ever which is when she tried to persuade Baslan to set her up a shop in Paris, to which he refused, he did however agree to allow Chanel to use his own Paris apartment. Here she employed a professional...

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