Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Coco Chanel

French fashion designer Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, best known as the creator of the "little black dress" was born today (19th August) in 1883.

Style was everything to Coco. Her avant-garde tastes and defiance of social conventions transformed the fashion world. She invented modern clothing for women - at the height of the Belle Epoque, she stripped women of their corsets and feathers, bobbed their hair, put them in bathing suits, and sent them out to get tanned in the sun. She introduced slacks, costume jewellery, and the exquisitely comfortable suit. She made the first couture perfume, Chanel No. 5, which remains the most popular scent ever created.

Her designs borrowed heavily from men's clothing, belting their jackets and sweaters and pairing them with skirts to make comfortable suits for working women. She pioneered pants as evening wear for women and invented clothing that could be worn during the day and into the night. A crisp white collar was a common element in her designs. She decorated her unstructured Jersey knits with pearl necklaces and faux jewels and furs so that, despite their comfort, her clothes were always luxurious. As her design empire and fame grew, so did Coco's social circle. Igor Stravinsky, the Duke of Westminster, Salvador Dali, and Jean Cocteau numbered among her most intimate friends, while Princess Grace and countless Hollywood stars and European royalty were devoted to her clothes.

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