Muses

Coco Chanel (1883 - 1971)

Brought up in a religious orphanage, Gabrielle Chanel turned into a seamstress in Moulins at the age of nineteen and promptly became acquainted to the young soldiers she would meet in the garnison town. Earning a new nickname, Coco, and becoming the protégé of Etienne Balsan, she promptly escaped poverty and, defining her own modern and boyish style, inspired the ‘grandes horizontales’ such as Liane de Pougy, she would meet and design hats for. When she fell in love with Boy Capel, she turned into a self-supporting businesswoman, establishing boutiques in fashionable Paris and Deauville where her sportswear aesthetic met with huge success and liberated a whole generation of constricted women. Fueled by her own strong personality and taste, she gave birth to an understated style dominated by black, white and beige jerseys adorned with costume jewelry. She highly epitomized the little black dress that suited her petite figure and reigned on fashion and Paris until the late 1930s as ‘a miniature female Stalin’ according to Elsa Maxwell. After an ambiguous role played during World War II, Coco Chanel returned to fashion in 1954, determined to oppose Christian Dior’s New Look. She who had been such an avant-garde observed social and cultural changes as well as the liberation of women with disdain. Before her death, she had declared ‘I…am an odious person’ and rare are those who would have contradicted such words but that is surely what helped her establish not only an empire but also her legend.

Tags / Coco Chanel - Muses - Fashion - The One - Style - 1920s
Coco Chanel, by Cecil Beaton 1937 © Cecil Beaton Studio Archive, Sotheby's London
Coco Chanel, by Cecil Beaton 1937 © Cecil Beaton Studio Archive, Sotheby's London
Coco Chanel, by Cecil Beaton 1937 © Cecil Beaton Studio Archive, Sotheby's London
Coco Chanel, by Cecil Beaton 1937 © Cecil Beaton Studio Archive, Sotheby's London
Coco Chanel by Cecil Beaton, April 1965 © Condé Nast Publications
Coco Chanel by Cecil Beaton, April 1965 © Condé Nast Publications
Coco Chanel by Cecil Beaton, April 1965 © Cecil Beaton Studio Archive, Sotheby's London
Coco Chanel by Cecil Beaton, April 1965 © Cecil Beaton Studio Archive, Sotheby's London
Coco Chanel by Cecil Beaton, Pencil's, 1960's © National Portrait Gallery, London
Coco Chanel by Cecil Beaton, Pencil's, 1960's © National Portrait Gallery, London
Gabrielle Chanel by Horst P.Horst, Paris, 1937, (c) Conde Nast/Corbis
Gabrielle Chanel by Horst P.Horst, Paris, 1937, (c) Conde Nast/Corbis
Coco Chanel and Romy Schneider, Fitting for Boccace 70, by Luchino Visconti, 1960. Copyright Botti/stills/Gamma-Rapho
Coco Chanel and Romy Schneider, Fitting for Boccace 70, by Luchino Visconti, 1960. Copyright Botti/stills/Gamma-Rapho
Coco Chanel and Jeanne Moreau, Paris, 1957
Coco Chanel and Jeanne Moreau, Paris, 1957
Coco Chanel and Romy Schneider by Shahrock Hatami, 1962
Coco Chanel and Romy Schneider by Shahrock Hatami, 1962
Coco Chanel and Romy Schneider, Fitting for Boccace 70, by Luchino Visconti, 1960. Copyright Botti/stills/Gamma-Rapho
Coco Chanel and Romy Schneider, Fitting for Boccace 70, by Luchino Visconti, 1960. Copyright Botti/stills/Gamma-Rapho
Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor, Duke of Westminster and Coco Chanel,1930s
Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor, Duke of Westminster and Coco Chanel,1930s
Coco Chanel and Vera Bate at the Duke of Westminster’s, Scotland, 1925
Coco Chanel and Vera Bate at the Duke of Westminster’s, Scotland, 1925
Coco Chanel at Lido Beach in 1936
Coco Chanel at Lido Beach in 1936
Coco Chanel with Duke Laurino of Rome on the beach at the Lido Venise, 1937
Coco Chanel with Duke Laurino of Rome on the beach at the Lido Venise, 1937
Serge Lifar, Marie Laure de Noailles, Igor Stravinsky, Coco Chanel, Paris Café de Flore, 1930s
Serge Lifar, Marie Laure de Noailles, Igor Stravinsky, Coco Chanel, Paris Café de Flore, 1930s
Coco Chanel, 1920s
Coco Chanel, 1920s
Coco Chanel and Serge Lifar, at the Lido Venise, 1937
Coco Chanel and Serge Lifar, at the Lido Venise, 1937
Portrait of Gabrielle Chanel, 1920s
Portrait of Gabrielle Chanel, 1920s
Coco Chanel and Serge Lifar, at the Lido Venise, 1937
Coco Chanel and Serge Lifar, at the Lido Venise, 1937
Gabrielle Chanel and Lady Abdy, 1929
Gabrielle Chanel and Lady Abdy, 1929
Gabrielle Chanel, Paris, 1936, © Lipnitzki / Roger-Viollet
Gabrielle Chanel, Paris, 1936, © Lipnitzki / Roger-Viollet
Gabrielle Chanel, 1930s
Gabrielle Chanel, 1930s
Coco Chanel by Mark Shaw, Paris, 1957
Coco Chanel by Mark Shaw, Paris, 1957
Gabrielle Chanel, Paris, 1938
Gabrielle Chanel, Paris, 1938
Coco Chanel in her rue Cambon apartment, 1930s
Coco Chanel in her rue Cambon apartment, 1930s
Gabrielle Chanel at her house La Pausa in the french riviera with her dog Gigot, 1930
Gabrielle Chanel at her house La Pausa in the french riviera with her dog Gigot, 1930
Gabrielle Chanel by Horst P.Horst, Paris, 1937, (c) Conde Nast/Corbis
Gabrielle Chanel by Horst P.Horst, Paris, 1937, (c) Conde Nast/Corbis
Gabrielle Chanel in Biarritz, 1920
Gabrielle Chanel in Biarritz, 1920
Gabrielle Chanel at her house La Pausa in the French riviera 1930
Gabrielle Chanel at her house La Pausa in the French riviera 1930
Gabrielle Chanel, Deauville, 1913
Gabrielle Chanel, Deauville, 1913
Coco Chanel and Salvador Dali, 1930s
Coco Chanel and Salvador Dali, 1930s
Gabrielle Chanel and the Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovitch, nephew of the Russian tsar Nicolas II of Russia, 1920
Gabrielle Chanel and the Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovitch, nephew of the Russian tsar Nicolas II of Russia, 1920
Coco Chanel seated in her appartment by Henry Clarke, Paris, 1954 © Condé Nast Archive/Corbis
Coco Chanel seated in her appartment by Henry Clarke, Paris, 1954 © Condé Nast Archive/Corbis
Henry Clarke, Coco Chanel, Designing clothing 1960s
Henry Clarke, Coco Chanel, Designing clothing 1960s
Coco Chanel on sofa by Cecil Beaton, 1938, © Condé Nast Archive/Corbis
Coco Chanel on sofa by Cecil Beaton, 1938, © Condé Nast Archive/Corbis
Coco Chanel by Douglas Kirkland, Paris, 1962 © Douglas Kirkland/Sygma/Corbis
Coco Chanel by Douglas Kirkland, Paris, 1962 © Douglas Kirkland/Sygma/Corbis
Coco Chanel by Douglas Kirkland, Paris, 1962 © Douglas Kirkland/Sygma/Corbis
Coco Chanel by Douglas Kirkland, Paris, 1962 © Douglas Kirkland/Sygma/Corbis
Cecil Beaton, Coco Chanel, sketche 1960's
Cecil Beaton, Coco Chanel, sketche 1960's
Suzy Parker,
Suzy Parker, "Coco" Chanel, on the mirrored staircase of her couture house, wears a beret, sweater and skirt. March 1954 © Condé Nast Archive/Corbis
Coco Chanel by Douglas Kirkland, Paris, 1962 by © Douglas Kirkland/Sygma/Corbis
Coco Chanel by Douglas Kirkland, Paris, 1962 by © Douglas Kirkland/Sygma/Corbis
Coco Chanel by Douglas Kirkland, Paris, 1962 by © Douglas Kirkland/Sygma/Corbis
Coco Chanel by Douglas Kirkland, Paris, 1962 by © Douglas Kirkland/Sygma/Corbis
Coco Chanel by Cecil Beaton, 1965, © Condé Nast Archive/Corbis
Coco Chanel by Cecil Beaton, 1965, © Condé Nast Archive/Corbis
Coco Chanel, 1931 © Underwood & Underwood/Underwood & Underwood/Corbis
Coco Chanel, 1931 © Underwood & Underwood/Underwood & Underwood/Corbis
Coco Chanel Shows Newly-Designed Dress, 1957 © Bettmann/CORBIS
Coco Chanel Shows Newly-Designed Dress, 1957 © Bettmann/CORBIS
Coco Chanel by Alex Stewart Sasha, 1929 © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS
Coco Chanel by Alex Stewart Sasha, 1929 © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS
Coco Chanel, 1920-25 © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS
Coco Chanel, 1920-25 © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS
Gabrielle Chanel by Horst P.Horst, Paris, 1937, (c) Conde Nast/Corbis
Gabrielle Chanel by Horst P.Horst, Paris, 1937, (c) Conde Nast/Corbis
Pamela Smith standing with Coco Chanel, London, 1920's © Bettmann/CORBIS
Pamela Smith standing with Coco Chanel, London, 1920's © Bettmann/CORBIS
Ballet Dancers in Le Train Bleu, costumes by Coco Chanel, Paris, 1924 © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS
Ballet Dancers in Le Train Bleu, costumes by Coco Chanel, Paris, 1924 © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS
Winston Churchill hunting with his Son Randolph and Coco Chanel, Dampierre-en-Yvelines, 1928 © Bettmann/CORBIS
Winston Churchill hunting with his Son Randolph and Coco Chanel, Dampierre-en-Yvelines, 1928 © Bettmann/CORBIS
Stanley Marcus presenting Fashion Award to Coco Chanel , Dallas, 1957 © Bettmann/CORBIS
Stanley Marcus presenting Fashion Award to Coco Chanel , Dallas, 1957 © Bettmann/CORBIS
Coco Chanel by Douglas Kirkland, Paris, 1962 © Douglas Kirkland/Sygma/CorbiS
Coco Chanel by Douglas Kirkland, Paris, 1962 © Douglas Kirkland/Sygma/CorbiS
Gabrielle Chanel and Marthe Davelli, 1930s , Collection Denise Tual
Gabrielle Chanel and Marthe Davelli, 1930s , Collection Denise Tual
François Kollar, Coco Chanel au Ritz, 1930s
François Kollar, Coco Chanel au Ritz, 1930s
Portrait of Coco Chanel by Lipnitsky, Paris, 1937 © Lipnitsky/ Roger-Viollet
Portrait of Coco Chanel by Lipnitsky, Paris, 1937 © Lipnitsky/ Roger-Viollet
Portrait of Coco Chanel by Robert Schall, Paris, 1930s
Portrait of Coco Chanel by Robert Schall, Paris, 1930s
First portrait of Gabrielle Chanel with one of her own hats published in the theatre magazine Comoedia Illustre, 1st October 1910
First portrait of Gabrielle Chanel with one of her own hats published in the theatre magazine Comoedia Illustre, 1st October 1910
Portrait of Coco Chanel by Lipnitsky, Paris, 1936 © Lipnitsky/ Roger-Viollet
Portrait of Coco Chanel by Lipnitsky, Paris, 1936 © Lipnitsky/ Roger-Viollet
Portrait of Coco Chanel by Lipnitsky, Paris, 1936 © Lipnitsky/ Roger-Viollet
Portrait of Coco Chanel by Lipnitsky, Paris, 1936 © Lipnitsky/ Roger-Viollet
Coco Chanel by Lipnitsky, Paris, 1937 © Lipnitsky/ Roger-Viollet
Coco Chanel by Lipnitsky, Paris, 1937 © Lipnitsky/ Roger-Viollet
Coco Chanel by Lipnitsky, Paris, 1936 © Lipnitsky/ Roger-Viollet
Coco Chanel by Lipnitsky, Paris, 1936 © Lipnitsky/ Roger-Viollet
Coco Chanel by Man Ray, Paris, 1935 © Man Ray Trust/ADAGP
Coco Chanel by Man Ray, Paris, 1935 © Man Ray Trust/ADAGP
Coco Chanel wearing a jersey suit in Biarritz, 1928 copyright TopFoto/Roger-Viollet
Coco Chanel wearing a jersey suit in Biarritz, 1928 copyright TopFoto/Roger-Viollet
Coco Chanel with Salvador Dali, 1937
Coco Chanel with Salvador Dali, 1937
Coco Chanel, Deauville in front of first Chanel store, 1913
Coco Chanel, Deauville in front of first Chanel store, 1913
Coco Chanel, Deauville in front of first Chanel store, 1913
Coco Chanel, Deauville in front of first Chanel store, 1913
Coco Chanel, Deauville in front of first Chanel store, 1913
Coco Chanel, Deauville in front of first Chanel store, 1913
Coco Chanel, Deauville in front of first Chanel store, 1913
Coco Chanel, Deauville in front of first Chanel store, 1913
Coco Chanel by Man Ray, Paris, © Man Ray Trust/ADAGP
Coco Chanel by Man Ray, Paris, © Man Ray Trust/ADAGP
Coco Chanel by George Hoyningen-Huene, 1935
Coco Chanel by George Hoyningen-Huene, 1935
Gabrielle Chanel by Horst P.Horst, Paris, 1937, (c) Conde Nast/Corbis
Gabrielle Chanel by Horst P.Horst, Paris, 1937, (c) Conde Nast/Corbis
Chanel and the Duke of Westminster on his yacht, 1928, (c) Chanel - Collection Denise Tual
Chanel and the Duke of Westminster on his yacht, 1928, (c) Chanel - Collection Denise Tual
Gabrielle Chanel by Horst P.Horst, Paris, 1937, (c) Conde Nast/Corbis
Gabrielle Chanel by Horst P.Horst, Paris, 1937, (c) Conde Nast/Corbis
Marie Laurencin, Portrait of Mademoiselle Chanel, 1923, oil on Canvas, MAM ville de Paris
Marie Laurencin, Portrait of Mademoiselle Chanel, 1923, oil on Canvas, MAM ville de Paris
Gabrielle Chanel by Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1964
Gabrielle Chanel by Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1964
Gabrielle Chanel by Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1964
Gabrielle Chanel by Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1964
Gabrielle Chanel by Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1964
Gabrielle Chanel by Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1964
Coco Chanel par Boris Lipnitzki, Paris, 1937
Coco Chanel par Boris Lipnitzki, Paris, 1937
Coco Chanel by François Kollar, 1937
Coco Chanel by François Kollar, 1937
Coco Chanel & Serge Lifar 1957
Coco Chanel & Serge Lifar 1957
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