Parisian fashion house Chanel was first established in 1909 by the late couturier Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, who was born in 1883 and opened her first millinery store, Chanel Modes. She retained the company position of chief designer until her death in 1971. Coco Chanel earned her nickname during her singing career in the cafés of Paris.
Famous for the quilted bag and little black dress, Chanel today is one of the most well-known and instantly recognisable brands worldwide.
At a time when the fashion world was dominated by corsetry, Chanel revolutionised the world of haute couture through the introduction of jersey to womenswear, and the idea of practical, casual suits and dresses created with class and elegance.
With the liberation of women following the first world war, Chanel clothing became well known for its comfortable yet elegant designs which allowed freedom of movement, as it became more popular for women to leave the kitchen behind and go out to work.
The first Chanel couture house was then opened in 1915, introducing other revolutionary fashion lines. It has gone from strength to strength since then, and the Chanel label is now one of the most easily recognized names in the haute couture fashion world.
This success is, in part, due to the reign of the iconic designer Karl Lagerfeld. With his vision of continuing to combine current trends with simple elegance, he continues to keep the Chanel brand at the cutting edge.
In 1978 the first non-couture line was launched, and Chanel began worldwide distribution of accessories.
Chanel handbags are frequently seen on the arms of the rich and famous, and the Little Black Dress, introduced by Coco Chanel in 1926, continues to be a staple of women’s wardrobes worldwide.
Perhaps most famous of all is the signature fragrance, No. 5, so named after Coco Chanel was told by a fortune teller that five was her lucky number. It was released on the fifth day of the fifth month of the year - May 5th 1921.
Ever popular with the rich and sophisticated, Marilyn Monroe, Kiera Knightly, Audrey Tautou and many others have taken the position of chanel spokesmodel. Chanel exhibits a yearly Cruise Collection, which seems to become an increasingly lavish affair.