Coco Chanel (1883-1971) Brief Background: Coco Chanel was born in a workhouse in the Loire Valley where her mother used to work, she was born in 1883 and her real name is Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, however she later claimed that her date of birth was 1893 which made her ten years younger. Her mother passed away when she was six years old, leaving five children behind her husband, whom he farmed out to various relatives. The young Chanel was sent to an orphanage of the Catholic Monastery of Aubazine where she learned sewing.
At the age of 18 she left the orphanage and started to work for a local tailor. The first World War led her move to the resort town of Deauvile, where she had connections with rich military officer and then with a wealthy English Industrialist, through these beneficial connections, she was able to open her own shop in Paris in 1910 later she opened boutiques. “Coco” Chanel The Designer: in the year 1920 she became the first designer to create loose garments for women and she used fabrics that were traditionally used for men clothing for e. g. ersey which was used for men’s undergarment out of that she created a relaxed style for women instead of the body hugging corseted look of the time. Her clothes became popular with clients for whom the corsets were old fashioned, everybody appreciated the change in fashion. Chanel became a style icon herself with her striking bob haircut, pearls, and her classic look. She was an icon for modern women of the time. By the 1920s, Maison Chanel was established at 31, rue Cambon in Paris (which remains its headquarters to this day) and become a fashion force to be reckoned with.
During 1922, she launched her perfume Chanel No. 5 for femme, which remains popular even to this date and will sure remain popular in the future centuries. In 1924 Pierre Wertheimer became her business partner taking on 70% of the fragrance business; he was reputedly her lover. The Wertheimer continues to control the perfume company today. For the period in 1925, Chanel launched her signature cardigan jacket, and the following year matched its success with the little black dress. Both items are still a staple part of every Chanel collection.
In 1954 she took on Christian Dior’s overtly feminine New Look. Furthermore Coco Chanel made other fashion statements, such as women could have their hair short. Her themes were always based on comfort that also allowed the modern career women to work, live, and look good doing so. One of her most famous creations in the 1950s was dubbed the Chanel Suite, which was a collarless jacket with a matching skirt. It caught on worldwide. Coco also stepped into the bell-bottom boom with trousers and coined the look of jewelry with sportswear.
Through the last decades of her life, Chanel was always working on new lines that spoke to the freed woman, when she expanded her signature style by introducing pea jackets and bell bottoms for women. Her new collection became a hit in the US and was criticized by the European press. That time famous Hollywood stars like Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly fell in love with her stylish boxy cardigan suits. Coco Chanel also designed costumes for the stage including Cocteau’s ‘Antigone’ (1923) and ‘Oedipus Rex’ (1937) and cinematic works such as ‘La Regle de Jeu’.
Coco Chanel worked until her death in 1971 at the age of 88, spending her last moments with style and grace. Today Karl Lagerfeld is the chief designer of Chanel’s fashion house. His ability to continuously mine the Chanel archive for inspiration testifies to the importance of Coco Chanel’s contribution to the world of fashion. Coco Chanel Fashion Highlights: Chanel was famous for making practical clothes, including pants for women, little black dresses, and box-like collarless jackets with bias edging and brass buttons.
Her first fabrics included wool jersey, which was comfortable and easy fitting, but was not considered suitable for fashionable clothes. Traditional Chanel accessories include multiple strands of pearls and gold chains, quilted handbags, sling-back pumps in ivory with black toes, quilted handbags with shoulder straps made of gold chain, and gardenias. Coco Chanel liked to mix imitation jewels with real jewels and often combined massive amounts with sportswear. Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973)
Brief Background: Elsa Schiaparelli became prominent Parisian fashion designer after Coco Chanel. She was born and raised in Rome in 1890. She was great niece of Giovanni Schiaparelli, who discovered the canals of Mars. She had a colorful childhood. Her interest in exploring the unusual in fashion surfaced early. As a young woman, attending a ball in Paris, she created a dress by winding a strip of fabric around her body. Had it not unraveled, she might have started her first popular trend.
At the age of 18 she got married to a theosophist but the marriage didn’t work out for long and she moved to Paris with her child to support. Elsa Schiaparelli the Rising Star: In the year 1928 she design a black sweater with a white trompe bow at the neck which was covered in the French Vogue. Anita Loos purchased on and a buyer for NY store ordered 40 with skirts to go along with them. Since then “Schiap” jumped into this business and bought cheap material for the skirts and hired a group of Armenian women to knit sweaters. She rented a studio and named it “Pour le Sport”.
She started making clothes for all kinds of sports happening at the time. Her designs started to appear in Vogue. In 1929 she was selling all sorts of practical and conventional clothes. During 1930 she launched day way and evening wear in her collection and expanded her studio. She experimented with costume jewelry. She introduced consolidated techniques and excellent craftsmen ship for couture. As a designer she sniffed out conventional materials and introduced fabrics that looked glass like cellophane which used to give an illusion of transparency.
She was known for her unusual design techniques therefore she hired Salvador Dali to design customized fabric for her and through him she produced a white dress with a lobster print. She is also known for her surrealist designs, especially for her hats, including one resembling a giant shoe and a giant lamp chop both were worn by famous singers of the time. She collaborated with many surrealist artists. In 1934 Elsa Schiaparelli opened a shop in London and also moved her Paris salon to 21 place Vendome.
In the window of her boutique she put Dali’s handiwork along with other surrealist works, and it was a great attraction to people on their way During 1936 she introduced her Egyptian look with pagoda sleeves in the same year zippers were exposed, Schiaparelli used imaginatively contrasting colors in her gowns and she used zippers as a design element instead of hiding them away for fastenings. In 1936 she also produced her “Desk Suit” inspired by Dali with false pockets and some real, her shocking clothes seldom offended her clients. Another creation of that year was the Dali lobster dress. 937 saw a back to front suit which was copied by Karl Lager field in 1986. Another Cocteau jacket bore his signature giving illusion of which part of the body was where. Her Hats continued to be fascinating; one with a hen in a nest became cover of Vogue in 1938. Schiaparelli’s Best Collection of 1930’s: There were 3 great fantasy collections in 1938, the pink and blue children’s world of the CIRCUS collection, the lush natural insect life of the PAGAN collection and the frolic Schiaparelli loved color, and had a way with unusual tints. They could be subtle or sharp or used with color blocking combinations. Turquoise linen ith grape velvet piping, purple and olive green combined with dark red. A simple black dress became dramatic with lime green coat or fire engine red stockings. Most famous was her “shocking pink” a bright magenta, not a new shade but a new name for this shocking color. She was the first designer to use shoulder pads, and shocking pink color. Elsa Schiaparelli Down Fall: Schiaparelli was devastated by World War II and she was forced to shut down her studio for the duration which later reopened in 1945 but till that time it seemed that the fire and passion to be different and shocking had vanished by the horror of six years of war.
In 1951 she limited herself by discontinuing couture part of her business, but she continued with designing accessories. In 1954 she wrote an autobiography “My Shocking Life”. Her output slowed by World War II therefore her couture house was bankrupt and she moved to the USA and the title of trendsetters was going to young aspiring designers such as Christian Dior. She herself retired from the work but till 1970’s she made wigs and passed away in 1973 at the age of 83, she was buried wearing her favorite color that she discovered i. e. hocking pink antique Chinese robe dress. However her fashion studio was reopened in 1977 by a designer team. Her lingerie and perfumes are still being sold. She offered examples of artistic clothing, she combined art with couture, she came up with an excellent combination of artisans and dress makers in her atelier until the collection became as one. Opinion According to me Mademoiselle Coco Chanel was a genius designer of the Fashion History. At the time when women were forced to dress up in a certain way, she stood up as a guiding light she was the voice of many women.
Her life was an extravaganza, and she was known for liberating social ideas that would free women from tight fitting uncomfortable clothes to a chic little black dress with pearls and short hairstyle. Today classic Coco women are a symbol of style, grace, comfort and pride. I have a lot of respect for her because she has seen lows and highs of her life, from an orphanage to a Fashion Studio; she lived life of a penny less orphan to millionaire designer. Coco is a role model for modern day women till today.
In those times Elsa Schiaparelli was a new fire, she created couture designs which were innovative, vibrant, bold, and artistic. She was inspired by the art movement surrealism which is one of my favorite art movement and also my most favorite surliest artist Dali designed fabric for Schiaparelli. She managed to gather an affluent and adventurous clientele which allowed them to use her free imagination. When she was a rising as a designer Paris was the site of the great surrealist balls, which in their mixture of masquerade and elegance provided her to innovations and illusions.
She didn’t stop amusing the public and enjoyed her thorough success. She is an icon for many young aspiring designers. If today we say the inspiration behind color blocking theme without any doubt it is because of her. In my personal opinion I believe Alexander Macqueen always had Elsa in his mind while designing his collection or Elsa Schiaparelli was born again in his body. Famous Designs [pic] Elsa Schiaparelli Hot Pink Shoes [pic] Elsa Schiaparelli Sweater [pic] Chanel Quilted Bag pic] Classic Chanel Jacket [pic] Chanel Dress [pic] Chanel Dress [pic] Elsa Schiaparelli Gown [pic] Chanel Cocktail Ensemble 1964 [pic] Chanel Wool Jacket 1935-37 [pic] Chanel Cocktail Dress [pic] Chanel Theater Suit 1938 [pic] Elsa Schiaparelli Insect Necklace [pic] Elsa Schiaparelli Perfume [pic] Elsa Schiaparelli Dress [pic] Elsa Schiaparelli Lobster Dress [pic] Elsa Schiaparelli Cover Page [pic] Elsa Schiaparelli Famous Shoe Hat [pic] Elsa Schiaparelli Skeleton Dress