Can you name all of the 9 most iconic Chanel trends?
“Coco Chanel did not want to be an anonymous seamstress” explains MyFrenchLife.org contributor Christelle Faux.
“She was audacious enough to present her own unconventional creations. Her understated, avant-garde outfits were a world away from the fashion of the time.”
Though we hear about Chanel’s great achievements – and the darker aspects of her past – a lot, it’s not often that we stop to consider exactly how this exceptional woman changed fashion forever. In a world where every aspect of a woman’s life was determined by men – even their clothes – Chanel dedicated her time to liberating women from the constraints of the corset, and from society’s expectations.
To do this as an unmarried woman, who began with no social connections to speak of, was even more remarkable.
The true brilliance of Chanel’s designs lies in their continuing legacy. Just think: how many ideas did she pioneer that are still fashionable today? To honour this incredible French icon, we’ve put together a list of nine things she made fashionable – forever.
1. Clothing for active women
When the corsets came off and the hemlines came up, Chanel saw a need for practicality and simplistic style. She took jersey, a fabric that was at the time used to make men’s underwear, and transformed it into a Jersey suit.
This outfit was designed to suit her lifestyle; it was easy to travel in. It was clothing for the active woman but still with a feminine touch. According to Vogue, Coco Chanel was the original Jersey girl. As Coco herself said: “I make fashion women can live in, breath in, feel comfortable in and look younger in.”
2. Flapper style
These would-be independent women wanted an alternative to the constricting and impractical fashions of the day. Chanel, in her audacity and desire for simplicity, threw away the corset and created a style that would characterise an era.
Her personal style was so influential in the flapper movement that she was sometimes referred to as la garçonne for her bob and loose fitting dresses. She also lived the flapper lifestyle, with love affairs and endless parties.
Before Chanel, black was a colour worn only by widows and servants. Chanel made black what it is today: effortlessly chic.
What’s not to love about black? It’s flattering and it goes with everything. It was Coco who added this practicality to all women’s lives.
At the time Chanel dressed like no one else – perhaps her black outfits are what drew the eyes of her various lovers. Thankfully, Chanel wasn’t afraid to share her secret with womankind.
Perhaps Coco’s greatest gift to ladies everywhere was her desire for women’s fashion to be designed by women, for our outfits to be liberating and practical but still feminine. The colour black symbolises Chanel’s esprit and desire to break with convention.
4. Chanel No. 5
This iconic fragrance has certainly stood the test of time. Before its creation, fruity floral scents were the only fragrances available.
Coco worked with perfumer Ernst Beaux to create “a woman’s perfume with a woman’s scent,” as Christelle Faux explains. “By revolutionising the aesthetic and social codes of her era, she succeeded in creating ‘an eternal perfume’.”
Coco is quoted by Inside Chanel as saying that, “a woman should wear perfume wherever she would like to be kissed.”
5. The LBD
The flapper movement saw the prototype of the Little Black Dress emerge. Through the LBD, Coco made black both sexy and elegant.
These days, it’s a look women across the world would be lost without. Chanel’s frivolous lifestyle still embodies the very ideals behind everyone’s favourite petite robe noir.
6. Costume jewellery
Diamonds might be a girl’s best friend, but costume jewellery is the friend you can always count on. Chanel believed women needed it in their lives to brighten the dull outfits and add a sense of luxury to any look.
While her pieces may be rather pricey, costume jewellery is a much more affordable alternative to sapphires and rubies.
Coco certainly received her fair share of real jewels over the years from countless affairs with aristocrats and wealthy men, but she was never far from her trusty costume pearls. “It’s not about the carats its about the illusion,” she once said.
Inside Chanel, a charming video series on the Chanel.com, even features an episode devoted exclusively to Chanel’s obsession with jewellery and diamonds.
7. Sun baking
If you thought tanning was just a phenomenon that had been around forever you’d be wrong. Prior to Mademoiselle Chanel making it fashionable, people preferred to keep their skin milky and white as a sign of class. Only labourers had dark skin from days spent working in the sun. Chanel changed this all.
As the article ‘7 Things You Should Know About Coco Chanel’ on All Women Stalk explains, “it was Coco Chanel who made it seem fashionable when she got burnt by sunrays way back in 1923 on a cruise towards Cannes! It sure is all in the attitude!”
8. The modern handbag
Chanel’s style was built on practicality. She saw a need to free up women’s hands and put the sac a main on a strap. The queen of French fashion set about designing the perfect bag. She named it the 2.55 after the date upon which it was created: February, 1955.
The Chanel bag is an iconic style that has been reborn over and over again. Thanks to the strap, women everywhere have the freedom to carry all their things in style and still use both their hands when needed.
9. Chanel jacket
Who could forget the infamous Chanel jacket? After Chanel’s self-imposed exile in Switzerland, she finally returned to the Paris fashion scene in 1954. She was determined to reinvent the fashion world once more.
While at first her designs were ridiculed by the French papers, the rest of the Western world fell in love. The Chanel jacket took off – all the stars were seen in one.
The Chanel jacket is a design for the ages. Perfectly tailored with a chain hidden on the inside, the jacket falls in the perfect place every time, and is always flattering.
What’s your favourite iconic Chanel trend? This conversation is missing your voice, share your opinions in the comments box bellow.Image Credits
1. Gabrielle Chanel en marinière by Collection particulière, via Wikimedia Commons.
2. Louise Brooks ggbain by Bain News Service, via Wikimedia Commons.
3. Chanel No. 5 by Luna Amanda, via Flickr.
4. Little Black Dresses, via Pinterest.
5. Coco Chanel in costume jewellery, via Pinterest.
6. Chanel Handbag, via Pinterest.