How Did Coco Chanel Become Famous?
There’s probably not a single person on the planet who hasn’t heard of Coco Chanel and her iconic perfume Chanel Nº 5. Born Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel in 1883, the French designer and entrepreneur became famous only after World War II. Along with Paul Poiret, she popularised sporty, casual style in clothing and liberated women from the constraints of the so-called corseted silhouette. After that, she expanded her designer influence to jewelry, purses, and perfumes, with Chanel Nº 5, a fragrance that never gets old, becoming a global brand.
How Did Coco Become Coco?
Coco Chanel learned to sew while still a teenager, but that wasn’t her only occupation. When not working as a dressmaker, she sang in a cabaret frequented by French cavalry officers. She performed in the renowned La Rotonde café, in the breaks between the turns of acclaimed artists. It is widely believed that she acquired her moniker Coco based on two very popular songs which she performed on stage, “Ko Ko Ri Ko” and “Qui qu’a vu Coco”, but it is also possible that the nickname stems from the French word cocotte, which describes a woman who likes to take good care of herself.
Expansion of the Fashion Empire
Most people believe that Chanel owes its success to Coco Chanel’s ties to many influential people, such as high ranked French army officers, British and Russian aristocracy, influential people in the film industry and various artists such as Stravinsky. In 1910, Coco opened her first boutique in Paris that quickly established itself a reputation for its millinery products. The famous actress Gabrielle Dorziat wore one of her hats in a play. Three years later Coco opened a boutique in Deauville, followed by another one in the Spanish town of Biarritz, aimed at wealthy Spaniards. Success was guaranteed. The years that followed were characterized by a massive brand expansion. The World War II slowed down the growth of fashion industry, Chanel’s as well. Nevertheless, in the post-war years, Chanel made a successful designer comeback and it has kept its place in the sun ever since.
Why Chanel Nº 5?
It is an interesting fact that Coco didn’t create Chanel Nº 5. Perfumer Ernest Beaux offered Chanel to brand her own perfume and, among the numbered samples, she chose the fifth vial. That’s how Chanel Nº 5 got its name. A timeless classic, it has become the ultimate symbol of femininity.