Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel was born August 19th, 1883 in France to a single mother living in poverty. Her father sent her, along with her three sisters, to live in a convent after her mother passed away when she was 12. It was there where she learned to sew and create clothing.
At the age of 18, Coco left the convent and began work as a seamstress and made an attempt at a singing career. Her pursuit of singing did not ultimately pan out.
In 1913 Chanel opened a boutique selling fashionable clothing in Deauville. She quickly gained a reputation for being at the forefront of fashion for her innovative use of fabrics. Her initial success allowed her to start another shop in Biarritz which became known as a venue for the wealthy during the First World War. In 1919, Chanel opened yet another boutique on 31 rue Cambon in the heart of the fashion world of Paris.
Coco Chanel revolutionized women's fashion with patterns of simplicity and style and was the only designer to be listed in the Time 100 most influential people of the Twentieth Century.
Significant items of clothing Coco Chanel helped pioneer included:
- the collarless cardigan jacket
- the bias cut dress – labelled a Ford by one critic because everyone had one.
- The shoe string shoulder strap.
- The floating evening scarf
- The wearing together of junk and real jewels