The legendary Coco Chanel created timeless fashion designs that are still in style today. She may have been well-known for her trademark suits and little black dresses, but there was so much more to this Queen of glamour and style.
Style icon Coco Chanel was born Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel in Saumur, France in 1883. The word ‘Bonheur’ in French means happiness. She got the nickname, Coco, when she was appearing as a cabaret singer and the music hall called ‘La Rotonde’ in 1905 and one of the songs that she sung was: ‘Qui qu’a vu Coco dans le trocader…’ Prolific fashion designer and famous for her iconic scent, Chanel No. 5, Coco Chanel is the only fashion designer to have been listed in Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of the twentieth century. She was known for her, ambition, determination and energy, but her life was not without controversy as well, so read on and find ten interesting facts about Coco Chanel:
1. She had a thing about pockets
Coco Chanel absolutely loved pockets and she thought that there simply weren’t enough of them in women’s clothing. Most of the clothes and accessories that she designed had plenty of pockets and, even to this day, you will find more than enough pockets in a Chanel purse.
2. Her favourite number was five
It’s not really surprising that her favorite was the number five, but the famous scent Chanel No. 5 got its name from the fact that it is Coco Chanel chose the fifth variant of the trial perfumes that were prepared. The perfume was launched to the public on the fifth of May (the fifth month) 1921.
3. She began her career designing hats
Coco Chanel’s career in fashion began as a hobby, designing hats. Later on, her hat creations become a must have item for the aristocratic ladies of Paris, even though some of her designs were considered to be too revolutionary for most ordinary people.
4. She made having a sun tan fashionable
At a time when sun bathing was not at all fashionable, Coco Chanel brought it into vogue, completely by accident. She got sunburned during a cruise holiday and when she returned to Cannes in France, the public immediately followed the trend.
5. She came from a poor background
Coco Chanel was the daughter of a laundrywoman who died of tuberculosis and her father deserted the family, so Coco was placed in an orphanage at the age of twelve. It was at the orphanage that she learnt how to sow, taught by the nuns and members of her family who sometimes visited her.
6. She was accused of Nazi collaboration
There have been many reports that link Coco Chanel to the Nazis during the war and it is suggested that she used her many aristocratic contacts in Spain and England to get information to pass to the Nazis. She also dated a Nazi officer, during the Nazi occupation of France, Hans Gunther Von Dincklage.
7. She was one of the first designers to use celebrities in advertising
Celebrities are often used today to promote products like perfumes and fashion, and it was Coco Chanel who was one the first designers to begin this practice. She took photographs of celebrities of the day, wearing her creations, and used them in advertising.
8. She lived in a hotel for over 30 years
Coco Chael lived in a luxurious suite in the Ritz Hotel, Paris, for 37 years, up until her death in 1971. During the war, the hotel was also where many occupying Nazi officers stayed, which further fuelled speculation about her Nazi connections.
9. She made the little black dress chic
Until the 1920’s, black was a colour reserved for funerals and ladies in mourning. In 1926, Coco Chanel included a short black dress in a collection that was published in the American Vogue magazine, and black became fashionable.
10. Chanel No.5
Coco Chanel’s signature perfume, Chanel No. 5, is one of the world’s best-selling fragrances of all time and it has been estimated that someone, somewhere, buys a bottle of Chanel No.5 every 30 seconds.