Monday, August 19, 2013
Candles for CoCo
On this day in 1883 in Saumur France, Gabrielle "Coco" Bonheur Chanel was born. A woman born into relative obscurity and has become one of the most iconic figures of the 20th century and one of THE most iconic and influential in fashion. Born to an unmarried laundry lass and street vendor she had a life of humble beginnings. She spun great tales of her past and upbringing as one could only guess because she was embarrassed of it. She was once quoted as saying, "My life didn't please me, so I created my life".
She had a job as a seamstress early in her life but her start in fashion was as a milliner (hat maker). She worked from an apartment as a distraction/hobby that quickly evolved into a full blown business. In 1910 she began to sell her hats from an established boutique at 21 rue Cambon, Paris (The CHANEL flagship boutique is currently at 31 rue Cambon).
To CoCo We Give Thanks For ...
1) LBD - Little Black Dress. The most iconic of the CHANEL garments. The fist LBD is reportedly constructed from thin silk, crèpe de chine and had long sleeves. It is the most versatile, fashionable, functional and elegant garment EVERY women regardless of shape, size, budget or age MUST have hanging in her closet in one form or another. The LBD is figure friendly and fabulous. A classic, undisputed wardrobe staple.
2) Costume Jewelry - She made what was then "undesirable" to the wealthy French, chic, timeless and fabulous. She said: " "It's disgusting to walk around with millions around the neck because one happens to be rich. I only like fake jewelry … because it's provocative."Vaughan, Hal (2011). Sleeping with the enemy: Coco Chanel's secret war. New York: Knopf
I LOVE costume jewelry. I have always found it to be much more creative and unique than it's high priced, precious counterpart. Piling on the faux-pearls is still VERY chic!
The bracelets worn in the above image are one of CoCo's favourite pieces: A white enameled cuff featuring the Maltese Cross in 'faux jewels'
3) The CHANEL Suit. One of the most iconic looks in fashion. It has stood the test of time and thanks to Karl Lagerfeld we can all enjoy the suit in its updated version, that's if you have $4,000+ to spend on a suit. The original version was inexpensive and for a lady's comfort and function to travel. It was created from a jersey knit fabric especially created for Coco.
4) Men's Wear Inspired Looks - CoCo embraced pants as sportswear in the 1920's. A bold feminist move in the early days before it was socially acceptable for women to wear pants.
5) The CHANEL Handbag - THIS is the bag to aspire to ladies. The quilted Chanel bag with the chain strap and interlaced CC logo is the most coveted and classic bag in Fashion in my humble PROFashional opinion. Some would argue the Birkin is because of it's waiting list and price but I'm partial to Chanel. The classic 2.55 (named after the month and year of design - Feb 1955) - black and hand quilted. Often imitated and never duplicated. Karl Lagerfeld revived and reissued it in the 80's and it has come a long way with different shapes, colors and fabrications but it has NEVER lost it's value or reputation. It boast a a heft price tag too; approx $4,000+ new. It is an investment piece that does not really loose it's value. Completely justifiable: Dear Santa ...
She was a trailblazer in fashion and lived a very interesting life. A feminist and a style visionary. There would have been 130 candles for CoCo today but sadly she left us in 1971 at the age of 87. Her legacy lives on and continues to thrive as the house of CHANEL is one of the most coveted brands on the planet! Although strange to pay tribute to someones birthday who has long since ended her earthly journey, attention had to be paid today to celebrate the life of such an amazing lady and a true inspiration to me and fashionistas everywhere.
Cheers to you COCO!