*Birth Name: Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel
*Born August 19, 1883 in Saumur, France
*Lived in an orphanage for 6 years after her mother died when she was 12 and her father couldn’t provide for her
*While at the orphanage, Chanel learned how to sew from a group of Nuns, which later helped to get her first job sewing
*Wanted to be a performer and began singing at a cabaret
-It was here that she was given the name “Coco,” which is short for Cocotte, meaning kept woman in French
-She wasn’t a very good singer and had trouble finding stage work
*Started a hat shop in 1910 at Rue Cambon in Paris
*In 1913 opened her first clothing boutique in Deauville that featured casual clothes for leisure
*By 1925 She was best known for her “little black dress” it was long sleeve made off thin silk.
-Also popular was her wool jersey skirt suits, which she loved to incorporate lots of accessories.
*She became the first designer to be associated with a fragrance, Chanel No. 5
*Began designing for film stars and theater performers
*By the 1939 during the start of WW2, Chanel decided to close her stores saying, “it was not the time for fashion”
*She became involved with a German military officer and was accused of being a traitor to her country due to her association to a known Nazi
– She left Paris and moved to Switzerland
*Chanel continued to work in the fashion industry up until her death in 1971 at the age of 87
*Nearly a decade later, Karl Lagerfeld took on the Chanel brand
*When she was born, her last name was officially registered as “Chasnel” by error.
*The first “Chanel” handbag was called “2.55,” after the date it was created (February 1955). It was modeled after her love of sports that featured jocks in quilted style jackets.
*Her life story was turned into a Broadway musical called “Coco,” starring Katherine Hepburn
*She has been romantically linked the Prince of Wales, Edward VIII