Updated: Feb 1, 2020
Famed for her invention of the little black dress and Chanel No 5 perfume, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s appeal has endured for almost a century so far, and there is no sign of her influence waning any time soon.
Chanel was a free thinker, wearing loose, boyish clothes because they suited her. She didn’t demand that people follow her; in fact, her original hat designs for other people were the same confections of frills and lace as were seen in other Edwardian fashions. It was the hats she wore herself, plain straw boaters with a dashing ribbon attached that people asked her for. Her plain, convent school dresses, as well as adaptions of her boyfriend’s outfits stood out, and it was her attitude and the way that she wore them that made them chic. She pioneered the use of black and white in accessories, and wore all white dresses as often as all black ones, although it is the little black ones that have come down to use. She loved long ropes of pearls amongst her other jewels, and her signature fabrics are tweeds and easy, practical jerseys. Clean, unfussy lines rule her look, with the iconic double C logo being recognised worldwide.
Chanel’s perfumes are also a worldwide brand. Marilyn Monroe famously announced that at night, she wore only “five drops of Chanel No 5”. This proclamation sent women rushing to anoint themselves with it.
She designed for The Ballet Russe and for plays by Jean Cocteau, although was never a success in Hollywood. Some parts of her legacy are difficult to trace, since she often changed her story.
She died in 1971, and Karl Lagerfeld took up the reigns of Chanel a little over a decade later, which he has headed, to great success, ever since.
You can shop for designer vintage and vintage clothing dating from the 1920s to the 1990s at our vintage shop based in Lancashire, or shop 24/7 on our website www.myvintage.uk for even more vintage fashion.
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