Top 10 Fascinating Facts About Chanel
Chanel is one of the oldest haute couture brands that still reigns supreme in the world of luxury fashion today. With the first official boutique opening in 1910, here are 10 behind-the-scenes, little-known facts about Chanel.
1. A Female Fashion Entrepreneur
Chanel is one of the few fashion powerhouses still active today, that had been established by a woman. Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel — who took on the nickname Coco — is the founder and namesake of the brand.
Other popular fashion powerhouses such as Dior, Prada, Louis Vuitton and Fendi, were each established by men.
2. It Takes a Village
It can take teams of seamstresses 100’s of hours to create intricately detailed Chanel garments or accessories.
Every embellishment — from sequins to embroidery — is expertly and delicately sewn by hand, with haute couture wedding dresses and highly textured garments amassing upwards of 1000 hours.
3. Coco Chanel began as a Milliner
Today, Chanel is known as a purveyor of a wide range of fashion collections, from wedding dresses to beauty and skincare. However, the Chanel brand initially began as a hat shop. Coco Chanel created her hat shop in 1909 within the ground floor of a textile businessman’s flat, before her first official boutique opened on Rue Cambon in 1910.
4. The Little Black Dress
One of the little-known facts about Chanel is that Coco Chanel is known as the creator of the ‘Little Black Dress’ trend. During the early 20th century, black was viewed as a colour of mourning and did not have a place within fashion. However Chanel managed to alter this view.
She is famously quoted as saying – “I imposed black; it’s still going strong today, for black wipes out everything else around.” The simplicity and power of a little black dress is often still a go-to for women wanting to exude quiet power and influence.
5. Entwining Style with Comfort
Coco Chanel was one of the first fashion designers to explore the use of jersey in fashion garments. Initially, it was thought to be a way of keeping costs down, as during the war access to fabrics became unpredictable, and jersey fabric was less desirable and therefore cheaper.
However the popularity of her luxe-looking but comfortable garments helped the brand to escalate even further as a dominant fashion influence.
6. The Haute Couture Ateliers
The creation of new Chanel garments is managed by their workshops and studios, also known as ateliers. There are 5 ateliers in total which handle the preparation of garments for seasonal shows.
Two ateliers handle an area that is titled, “Flou”, where the seamstresses specialise in working with delicate and difficult to handle fabrics such as tulle or chiffon.
Another two large ateliers handle the ‘suiting’, and a fifth workshop that is known as “galon” handles the finishing and trimming of garments.
7. The Instantly Recognisable CC Logo
Created in 1925, the interlocking CC logo that is synonymous with the Chanel brand was created by Coco Chanel herself. Its simple and timeless design is completely unchanged and now features frequently on fabric prints and Chanel bag clasps.
8. That Familiar Perfume…
The iconic Chanel No.5 perfume was created in 1921 after Coco Chanel commissioned a chemist and perfumer known as Ernest Beaux to create a signature women’s scent. Another one of the little-known facts about Chanel is that the number 5 was said to have been an influential number in Coco Chanel’s life. When she was presented with a selection of numbered perfumes to choose from, she chose scent No. 5.
9. The Tweed Suit
An iconic and highly recognisable Chanel staple. Chanel was one of the first fashion houses to create suits for women, specifically tweed suits. Chanel herself was known to loathe mini skirts, but had great respect for trousers and the comfort and ease they could provide for women.
10. Under the Wing of Karl Lagerfeld
In 1983 Karl Lagerfeld took Chanel under his wing. He was responsible for incorporating the bold CC logo into more of the brand’s designs and also revitalised the ailing brand’s ready-to-wear collections. He remained a beloved and integral part of the Chanel brand until his death in 2019.
Coco Chanel was definitely a woman who loved to challenge societal norms for women. Whilst the Chanel brand faltered after her death in 1971, it was revitalised by Karl Lagerfeld, and today honours her memory by continuing her legacy of pushing the boundaries of fashion, and entwining comfort and sheer elegance.