Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel (19 August 1883 - 10 January 1971) was a French fashion designer and business woman. She was the founder and namesake of the Chanel brand. Along with Paul Poiret, Chanel was credited in the post-World War I era with liberating women from the constraints of the "corseted silhouette" and popularizing a sporty, casual chic as the feminine standard of style. She is widely regarded as the greatest fashion designer who ever lived, thus making the name of Chanel iconic.
There was nothing spectacular about Chanel's childhood. Her mother died and she was placed in an orphanage by her own father where nuns raised her and taught the young, ambitious girl how to sew. She was given her nickname during a brief career as a singer. Chanel performed in clubs in Vichy and Moulins where she was called “Coco.”
Around the age of 20, Chanel became involved with Etienne Balsan, who offered to help her pursue a millinery business in Paris. She soon left him for one of his even wealthier friends, Arthur “Boy” Capel. They both played a role in Chanel’s first fashion venture.
Over the years Chanel proved herself to be a strong and determined business woman. The popular Chanel suit and Little Black Dress labeled her has a fashion icon. She went on to create a very successful cosmetic and perfume line which included the ever so adored Chanel No 5.
Coco Chanel died on January 10, 1971 at her apartment in the Hotel Ritz. She was a woman who made a living making bold decisions and designs that are just as popular today. Her name and legacy will live on forever.
By K. Graves
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