Coco Chanel is arguably one of the most well-known fashion designers in history. She has influenced fashion but also people’s hearts and personalities to take themselves and walk in the world with confidence.
Although her history is one of hard work and struggle, you can bet everything paid off in the end.
Known as one of the most brilliant entrepreneurs of the 1900s and a real icon, there is so much to love about Coco that we cannot hold ourselves back. We love what she did and continue to admire what she left behind.
If you’re a young designer, you will want to know more about this incredible entrepreneur and star in the industry. Even if you aren’t related to fashion, interesting is only a part of how you will find her history.
Thus, if you are up for the review and want to learn more about this stunning lady and her achievements, just stay with us.
Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel: Childhood & Early Years
Yes, we know you know her as Coco, just like millions of people worldwide and throughout history. But did you know her real name was Gabrielle?
We are partially guilty of thinking her real name was Coco at least once (as funny as it sounds). However, we have rectified ourselves and want you to know it since the beginning.
Born in Saumur, Maine-et-Loire, France, in 1883, she would discover in the future that Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel was born to be an icon, fashion designer, and businesswoman.
His parents, Jeanne Devolle Chanel and Albert Chanel, were not rich but rather poor. This means Gabrielle’s childhood was a bit tough in terms of money and how much her family could afford.
Jeanne worked as a laundrette, while Albert was an itinerant street vendor selling clothes and undergarments. While her mother was always with her, her father was always on the move and led a nomadic lifestyle.
Unfortunately, Chanel’s mom died when she was just 11 years old, and instead of taking care of her, she was sent by her father with five other siblings.
Her brothers were sent to work on farms, while Gabrielle Chanel and her sisters were placed in the convent at Aubazine, where their father found an orphanage.
The orphanage provided a way for girls to live a simple life and gave them a chance for those who had been abandoned and homeless. This is when her connection with fashion starts.
The caretakers taught her how to sew and handle essential yet straightforward tasks related to clothing.
After living throughout her teenage years in the orphanage, Chanel was 18 when she moved to Moulins, a boarding school for Catholic girls.
Thanks to learning how to sew in her stay in the convent, she was soon able to find work as a seamstress. However, most of her income came from a part-time job she took during her free time, where she sang in a cabaret for cavalry officers.
Chanel made her stage debut at a cafe concert in the era’s most popular entertainment venue. She performed in La Rotonde’s Moulins pavilion. She was a poser and made enough money to cover the expenses between star turns.
Her nickname “Coco” appeared during her years as a singer in the cabaret since she often sang “Who has seen Coco,” which is why men and women continued to call her with the name.
Since then, the nickname has remained, and people knew Chanel more as Coco than with her last name.
After her time in the cabaret, Chanel was working on a Vichy-based spa resort in 1906.
The resort was close to theatres, cafes, and concert halls where she wanted to perform. Her dream to be one of the best singers is probably one of the main goals she set during her young age.
It would be a great dream since Chanel was attractive and young, with a physical appeal. However, her voice wasn’t impressive but rather just complemented by her looks, which would bring her great deception later on.
With no success in finding gigs as a singer and in order to survive, she worked at the Grande Grille. After realizing she wasn’t meant to be on stage, she returned to Moulins.
From Singer to Fashion Designer: Chanel Brand
It was hard for our beautiful Coco to realize that she didn’t have a future in the music industry. This was settled for her life, and despite the effort, she invested in this, she knew she wasn’t going to achieve the desired results.
This is why, when returned to Moulins, she ended up being involved with quite some men that would lead her to a new path in her career and life.
Chanel opened several stores after she returned to Moulins in the fashion industry.
Among them is the popular luxury brand we know today, The House of Chanel (Chanel S.A.), which she founded in 1909 after opening a millinery shop at 160 Boulevard Malesherbes.
The store was located on the ground floor in the Parisian apartment of Etienne Balsan. She could use such an exclusive location since Coco was his mistress.
The location would certainly pay off when Chanel was able to meet elite clients who were willing to pay for her designs. Most of the clients were, of course, fashion women.
These women displayed their wealth through elaborate clothing, jewelry, and hats.
Although mademoiselle Gabrielle was tied to Balsan during the early months of her business, she soon was able to sell the hats she had designed and made enough profit to free herself from that dependence.
Another man who influenced Coco’s journey was Arthur “Boy,” an English socialite who was also a friend and polo player.
This man would go on and make Chanel his mistress. However, he saw Chanel as a businesswoman more than a woman he liked despite her social circumstances.
This is what led him to fund her first independent millinery shop called “Coco Chanel Mods” in Paris in 1910.
Chanel was able to sell only millinery items at the location that was also home to a dress shop, thanks to the business lease.
Coco Chanel owned the Deauville and Biarritz couture stores that sold pret-a-porter clothing for women.
Although success came her way with how her stores were booming, the First World War (1914-18) came and saw a shortage in materials, and the mobilization of women had a profound impact on European fashion.
However, this didn’t stop the young designer and businesswoman.
She opened a large shop in Paris at 31 Rue Cambon near the Hotel Ritz, where she added more items for sale. Those included blazers made of Flannel and skirts with straight lines in linen.
Coco Chanel used jersey fabric because of its physical characteristics as garments. Its drape, which is how it falls on women’s bodies, and its adaptability for simple garment designs are two reasons for her preference. People just loved it as well.
One of the reasons she decided to work with the materials is because the War uniforms influenced Chanel’s designs.
During this time, Harper’s Bazaar magazine reported that La Maison Chanel clothes were “on every buyer’s wish list” for European clothing factories between 1915 and 1917.
After the First World War, La Maison Chanel made beaded dresses. These dresses were extremely popular among women in the 1920s.
Coco presented a Chanel suit for women that consisted of two or more garments during this period.
This enabled a woman to appear modern and feminine while remaining practical and comfortable, which revolutionized how women would dress without worrying about comfort and style.
By the time of her success, she asked Ernest Beaux, an artist, and perfumer, to create a perfume that would match her suit of clothes.
Can you guess which perfume he created? The iconic Chanel N. 5 was Coco’s favorite sample and fragrance during the creation and testings.
Most clients received No.5 after it was delivered whenever they purchased suits or specific products. However, the perfume boomed, and this made Coco think about selling it retail in 1922.
Chanel’s No. 5 success inspired her to start selling her perfumes in Europe and would bring new fragrances to the collections.
After Success: How Chanel Survived
Everything was going incredibly well with the business. However, Chanel went through many difficulties in her fashion career.
Of course, more success was coming her way, especially when, in the later 1920s, more investors and visionaries joined her as partners to bring a new vision to the brand. Or more like expand it.
Chanel wasn’t doing incredibly well since the war had a significant impact on business in the 1930s and 1940s. However, things would go worse after one of her partners betrayed the designer by stealing some of her creations.
This Chanel to be exiled to Switzerland for a long time, and despite all the difficulties, she opened a perfumery to rival her partner’s.
With her success in Switzerland, Coco was inspired by many trends from the 1950s through the 1970s and decided to return to France during this time.
Starting almost fresh in the city once more was a big challenge. Her difficulties selling perfume for men were included in some of her struggles, but her brand’s success in designing new clothes is also documented.
With all the good and bad times, she placed Chanel and herself in the spotlight.
This led the brand to become a luxury brand that is now well-known around the world and has placed her name at the top of the fashion designers icon.
After all her success, Coco Chanel, who was 87 years old, died on January 10, 1971. Remembered for creating her designs until the day of her death, she is quite the inspiration for youngsters and any person in the world.
During Her Death: How Much Was Coco Worth?
Since she is no longer with us (unfortunately), it can be hard to estimate her fortune.
On the other hand, the fashion brand is worth about $13.2 billion, and it is one of the top luxury brand houses in the century so far.
But focusing on our entrepreneur and great businesswoman, Chanel is said to be worth about $190 million by the time of her death.
Of course, this doesn’t include inflation and how much her brand is worth today.
It is hard to say how much Chanel would be worth in 2021, but the estimate goes around $1-2 billion considering how much stake she had in the company and is the main designer as well.
It isn’t necessary to mention that all her fortune came from the effort of building Chanel.
Gabrielle was one of those women who never gave up on her dreams as long as they were realistic (sounds a bit ironic).
The fashion house by Chanel is one of the biggest examples of hard work and taking all your chances in life.
Many have criticized her for only working around men’s money and waiting to be financed. However, with the early 1900s being her time, do you think there was another option?
We don’t think she was bound to men. We believe she did incredibly well to take them if they were only willing to have her as a mistress and get her chances in life.
Business partners that came later and trusted her (and did not betray Coco) were huge additions to her business life and personal.
If she was still alive, she would still be an icon and one of the wealthiest fashion designers on Earth.
Social Impact: More than a Fashion Designer
We would love to see how she would impact people today. We even think her influence would be so good for new generations.
But staying with Chanel’s impact during her years, we have to focus on how she broader trends in the 20th century.
Chanel marked the beginning of a shift in how women saw themselves and how society saw them as well.
They were bolder, had more confidence in themselves, and knew how to take their shoes and walk to conquer the world—that much of an influence Coco had.
The trend continued to an even larger extent in the 20th century when women were granted the right to vote, and feminism grew. Feminism advocates for women to have the same social, political, and economic rights as men.
Coco Chanel’s attention to the daily issues faced by women prompted greater awareness of other issues facing women.
She wasn’t the only one who would dress women and make them look even better. She brought great impact to respect her rights and how women could, clearly, be at the top of the world.
After all these years, Coco isn’t with us, but her ideas and inspiration stayed with women who fought for more rights and remained as an inspiration for every person.
During her life, the American and British press covered her achievements. Today, she is known as a fashionable woman and French designer who can be considered one of the most famous designers ever.
Making Your Our House of Chanel?
If you are a fashion designer or someone who aspires to be one, don’t give up.
If there’s something more than Coco taught us is to never give up and pursue your dreams. Work hard for them, and there will be rewards.
We are sure that if you take a moment to read through Coco’s life again and her success, you will notice how good of an example she is for your life.
It is important to keep your mind open and seek out people who can be supported even when they are not here. However, their stories and achievements are.
We want to encourage you to follow your dreams and find new opportunities to exploit your talent and get the chance to shine.
Now, it doesn’t have to be fashion and the same niche. You can have Coco as your
If you’re having trouble deciding what to do, we would be happy to recommend some ideas, starting with local lead generation.
Companies and businesses aren’t returning to the days of people having to travel to work as profitable as these luxury brands are.
While this doesn’t necessarily mean that traditional design is no longer relevant, it does mean that you can place your bets on online options and dreams a bit more than the regular alternatives.
Now, local lead gen focuses on creating websites for small businesses or individuals who wish to gain clients.
It is your job to find them, build their websites, and ensure that they rank highly on Google. This will enable you to generate leads or bring in clients for them.
This is a great opportunity because you don’t need an office or talent. You can also mix it with future plans and finance them with your profits from lead gen.
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