Gabrielle ‘Coco’ CHANEL *Tribute – WOMAN of ACTION™

A Celebration of Women™

in honor of NEW YORK FASHION WEEK, has chosen to Celebrate with the Women of our World, the Life of our world’s original icon for Women in the Fashion Industry. This woman carried a spirit of independence before her time, a style that melded the ultimate class with comfort.

Coco was famous for the saying:

“…luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.

It is an honor to pay this Tribute to the one and only, COCO CHANEL.


Gabrielle {Coco} Chanel

Coco Chanel Quote

“A woman should mix fake and real.
To ask a woman to wear real jewelry only
is like asking her to cover herself with real
flowers instead of flowery silk prints.
She’d look faded in a few hours.
I love fakes because I find such jewelry provocative,
and I find it disgraceful to walk around with millions
around your neck just because you’re rich.
The point of jewelry isn’t to make a woman look rich
but to adorn her; not the same thing. “


She was born on August 19, 1883, at 4 PM LMT, in Saumur, France

With her trademark suits and little black dresses, Coco Chanel created timeless designs that are still popular today. She herself became a much revered style icon known for her simple yet sophisticated outfits paired with great accessories, such as several strands of pearls.

As Chanel once said,“luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.”

Her early years, however, were anything but glamorous. After her mother’s death, Chanel was put in an orphanage by her father who worked as a peddler. She was raised by nuns who taught her how to sew—a skill that would lead to her life’s work.

Gabrielle Coco Chanel was a haute couture revolutionary, changing the way women dress in the 1920s and again in the early 1960s. She is an iconic figure in the fashion world, responsible for decades of innovation and several classic, signature looks- like the Little Black Dress and Chanel suit. Coco spent her entire life building a fashion empire on her talent and intuition for what women want to wear. She left a monumental impact on the fashion industry.
Gabrielle as a shop girls in Moulins 1903 (with one of her many admirers)

Gabrielle Chanel, Etienne Balsan and Boy Capel at Royalieu

Gabrielle Chanel in 1909

Breaking into Fashion

Gabrielle Chanel wearing embellished boater hat at the race tracks 1910

Her nickname came from another occupation entirely. During her brief career as a singer, Chanel performed in clubs in Vichy and Moulins where she was called “Coco.”

Some say that the name comes from one of the songs she used to sing, and Chanel herself said that it was a “shortened version of cocotte, the French word for ‘kept woman,” according to an article in The Atlantic.

Around the age of 20, Chanel became involved with Etienne Balsan who offered to help her start a ‘millinery’ business in Paris.

She soon left him for one of his even wealthier friends, Arthur “Boy” Capel.

*** Both men were instrumental in Chanel’s first fashion venture.

Opening her first shop on Paris’s Rue Cambon in 1910, Chanel started out selling hats.

She later added stores in Deauville and Biarritz and began making clothes. Her first taste of clothing success came from a dress she fashioned out of an old jersey on a chilly day. In response to the many people who asked about where she got the dress, she offered to make one for them.

She once told author Paul Morand….

“My fortune is built on that old jersey that I’d put on,

because it was cold in Deauville.”

For the creation of her first perfume “CHANEL N°5”, in 1921, Ernest Beautiful, creator of perfume with the course the tsars of Russia, presented at Coco Chanel two series of numbered samples from 1 to 5 and 20 to 24.

She chooses the sample n° 5.

With the question “which name you will give it?”, she answered:

“I launch my collection on May 5, fifth month of the year, leave it to its number which it carries, and this number 5 will carry chance to it”.



Coco Chanel drew the original bottle, a very simple bottle. She affirmed that what was inside than the bottle itself was much more significant.

In the 1920s, Chanel took her thriving business to new heights.

She launched her first perfume, Chanel No. 5, which was the first to feature a designer’s name.


the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion that

heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure,”

Chanel once explained.

In 1925, she introduced the now legendary Chanel suit with collarless jacket and well-fitted skirt. Her designs were revolutionary for the time—borrowing elements of men’s wear and emphasizing comfort over the constraints of then-popular fashions. She helped women say good-bye to the days of corsets and other confining garments.

Another 1920s revolutionary design was Chanel’s little black dress. She took a color once associated with mourning and showed just how chic it could be for eveningwear. In addition to fashion, Chanel was a popular figure in the Paris literary and artistic worlds.

She designed costumes for the Ballets Russes and for Jean Cocteau’s play Orphée, and counted Cocteau and artist Pablo Picasso among her friends.

For a time, Chanel had a relationship with composer Igor Stravinsky. PHOTO: Arnold Newman.

Another important romance for Chanel began in the 1920s. She met the wealthy duke of Westminster aboard his yacht around 1923, and the two started a decades-long relationship.

In response to his marriage proposal, she reportedly said…

“There have been several Duchesses of Westminster—

but, there is only one Chanel!”

The international economic depression of the 1930s had a negative impact on her company, but it was the outbreak of World War II that led Chanel to close her business. She fired her workers and shut down her shops.

During the German occupation of France, Chanel got involved with a German military officer, Hans Gunther von Dincklage. She got special permission to stay in her apartment at the Hotel Ritz. After the war ended, Chanel was interrogated by her relationship with von Dincklage, but she was not charged as a collaborator.

*Some have wondered whether friend Winston Churchill

worked behind the scenes on Chanel’s behalf.

In 1943, after four years of professional separation, Chanel contacted Lombardi, who was living in Rome. She invited Lombardi to come to Paris and renew their work together. This was actually a cover for “Operation Modellhut”, an attempt by Nazi spymaster Walter Schellenberg to make secret contact with Lombardi’s relative Winston Churchill. hen Lombardi refused, she was arrested as a British spy by the Gestapo. Chanel was later charged as a collaborator, but avoided trial due to an intervention by the British Royal family.

Chanel was a very close friend of Walter Schellenberg to the extent that when he died penniless of cancer in Turin, Chanel paid for his funeral.

While not officially charged, Chanel suffered in the court of public opinion. Some still viewed her relationship with a Nazi officer as a betrayal of her country. Chanel left Paris, spending some years in Switzerland in a sort of exile. She also lived at her country house in Roquebrune for a time.

At the age of 70, Chanel made a triumphant return to the fashion world. She first received scathing reviews from critics, but her feminine and easy-fitting designs soon won over shoppers around the world.

In 1969, Chanel’s fascinating life story became the basis for the Broadway musical Coco starring Katharine Hepburn as the legendary designer. Alan Jay Lerner wrote the book and lyrics for the show’s song while Andre Prévin composed the music. Cecil Beaton handled the set and costume design for the production. The show received seven Tony Award nominations, and Beaton won for Best Costume Design and René Auberjonois for Best Featured Actor.

Coco Chanel died on January 10, 1971, at her apartment in the Hotel Ritz. She never married, having once said “I never wanted to weigh more heavily on a man than a bird.” Hundreds crowded together at the Church of the Madeleine to bid farewell to the fashion icon.

{Marlene Dietrich modeling a masculine-styled pant suit designed by Coco Chanel, 1933}

In tribute, many of the mourners wore Chanel suits.

A little more than a decade after her death, designer Karl Lagerfeld took the reins at her company to continue the Chanel legacy. Today her namesake company continues to thrive and is believed to generate hundreds of millions in sales each year.

In addition to the longevity of her designs, Chanel’s life story continues to captivate people’s attention. There have been several biographies of the fashion revolutionary, including Chanel and Her World (2005) written by her friend Edmonde Charles-Roux.

In the recent television biopic, Coco Chanel (2008), Shirley MacLaine starred as the famous designer around the time of her 1954 career resurrection. The actress told WWD that she had long been interested in playing Chanel. “What’s wonderful about her is she’s not a straightforward, easy woman to understand.”

Biography thanks to © 2010 A&E Television Networks. All rights reserved, @ Fair Use.


Extra Quotes @ COCO

“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.”

“Fashion fades, only style remains the same.”

“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.”

“As long as you know men are like children, you know everything!””

“How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone.”

“A women who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.”

“If a man talks bad about all women, it usually means he was burned by one woman”

“Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.”

“Those who create are rare; those who cannot are numerous. Therefore, the latter are stronger.”

“When I can no longer create anything, I’ll be done for.”


Clothing Encyclopedia, History of Collections:

The Chanel Website: /

A Celebration of Women

celebrates the Life of this Intrigue of a Woman. Regardless of her lifestyle,

this Powerhouse set the stage for all Women to Live Out Loud, Speak Your Mind & BE Yourself!

Rest in Peace & may Coco’s Spirit live inside all Women!

Bravo COCO!

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