Chanel: A Grand & Fashionable History
Chanel. With only one name, this fashion brand has tantalized millions. Its global outstretch is unmatched. On top of the rich history and widespread love for Chanel, they are known as one of the most classy and trustworthy brands. But there are always questions to ask, even from the most dependable of brands. How did they get to where they are today? Why does Chanel have a reputation for quality items? Well, you are about to get your answers. Not only will these questions be answered in a recap of Chanel’s history, but Love Happens will also discuss founder Coco Chanel herself and what the brand is doing nowadays.
The Woman Behind the Brand
Gabrielle Chanel, also known as Coco, is, as you would guess, the founder of Chanel and, of course, the queen behind the Chanel brand’s history. She was born into a poor family in France but soon became an orphan. With nothing to her name, Coco was left to find her own way in the world. Once she turned 18, she left the orphanage but did not enter the fashion universe. Instead, she started singing to make ends meet. This did not last, but with the help of a wealthy man, she was able to open her own hat shop. It was her first dip into women’s fashion, but as we know, Coco Chanel would soon grow.
How did Coco Chanel get out of the hat game? By being a visionary, of course. In 1912, Chanel gained popularity for sportswear. Odd, considering the classy looks that Chanel is known for. Her fame grew, not from just the items, but from what they were made of. These sportswear items were made from jersey material, which was originally used in men’s clothing. This shift in fabric from men’s clothing to women’s clothing was revolutionary, and everyone loved it. Gone were the days of tight corsets and fitted bodices; instead, looser jersey material was in. This creation put Coco and her company on the map, but these revolutionary ideas did not stop with jerseys.
The Perfume Craze
Chanel gained more popularity in the following years, with couture and boutiques popping up around France. However, it was the perfume that people went nuts for. In the early 1920s, Coco Chanel, along with her perfume partner, created Chanel No. 5, the most well-known fragrance today. Not only was she one of the first to introduce a perfume into her industry, but everyone else loved it. With hints of jasmine, as well as other floral scents, it is now known as classy and timeless. This fragrance launched into other perfumes as well, such as Chanel No. 22 and Coco Chanel the Perfume. Chanel No. 5 was revolutionary then and still is now.
Famous Faces for Chanel
Although Chanel officially shut down in 1939 due to the war, by the early 1950’s Chanel was up and running again. It was then that the company found favor with American celebrities. Marilyn Monroe endorsed Chanel Number 5, claiming that it was what she wore to bed. This endorsement led to other endorsements from celebrities in the future. Some of the most well-known are Jackie Kennedy, Jane Fonda, and Elizabeth Taylor. All of these women were, and still are, known for being timeless and elegant. Because of these chic chicks, Chanel’s reputation as a brand grew.
Trends for the 50s and 60s
During the boom in fashion, as well as Chanel, some of the most iconic pieces were introduced into the Chanel gallery. The tweed two-piece suit, the infamous design, was first created during the 1950s and 1960s. Among this creation was more jersey material, giving a throwback for consumers, as well as the 2.55 Purse and bell bottoms. It was an ever-changing time for the fashion industry, but it was also a changing time for Chanel too.
More to Love!
Brand History Post Coco Chanel
The legendary Coco Chanel died at 87 in 1971. But the Chanel brand quickly lived on and grew with a new Artistic Director, Karl Lagerfeld. During this time, the Ready-To-Wear collection came out. This was something new, as haute couture and things of that nature were mostly worn by celebrities. Now, others can buy and wear Chanel on the street. It was haute-couture, but it was also streetwear.
Chanel’s Newest Moves
Of course, Chanel continues to make new lines of both haute-couture, as well as ready-to-wear fashion. Well, their new 2022-2023 lines have something for everyone. A little of the old and a little of the new are intertwined with runway looks from Chanel. A piece of the past that Chanel lovers always go crazy for is the tweed. As said before, the tweed co-ord sets were absolutely the rage when Coco Chanel was alive. It was one of the pieces that she was perhaps most known for, and that tradition has not died in the slightest. The more traditional looks of skirts with tights are also prevalent, which is a nod to the classy, sophisticated style.
However, some of the new trends permeating through are bold colors and different silhouettes. Bright pinks and emerald greens are very popular in the new lines. Additionally, pairing multiple bold colors with one another is also a trend in the newer collections. Blues with pinks, greens with purples, everything is very vibrant and very bold. In terms of a new silhouette, there are looser fits and longer dresses, as opposed to tighter, shorter skirts. While there are nods to the past and a respect for tradition, Chanel continues to be the revolutionary that they were in the past.
See the Chanel Fall Winter 2022/2023 Collection, along with all the brand’s other new and old collections, at chanel.com.
Honoring Craftsmanship & Preserving Crafts
Since 2002, Chanel has paid tribute annually to the masterful craftsmen of fashion with their Métiers d’art collection. On each occasion, bringing together hundreds of embroiders, goldsmiths, feather workers, pleaters, shoemakers, flower makers, milliners, glove makers, hatters, leatherworkers, and beyond. Not only does this collection celebrate these artisans, but it also celebrates savoir-faire in its entirety.
In December 2021, Chanel inaugurated a new artistic creation space called Le19M. The goal of the Paris-based space is to preserve handicrafts and everything that is handmade, especially in luxury fashion. Learn more about the space and residents in our article here.
Words by Alison Morrison