Born on this day in Saumur, Maine-et-Loire, fashion designer Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel (1883-1971) created classic designs, liberating women with sophistication and comfort. She dominated Parisian fashion for nearly 60 years.
"There is no time for cut-and-dried monotony. There is a time for work. And time for love. That leaves no other time," she said.
Her original ideas included the use of turtleneck sweaters, pea jackets, costume jewelry, and graceful jersey suits. As designer Christian Dior explained: "With a black pullover and ten rows of pearls she revolutionized fashion."
Giorgio Armani called her "the most elegant woman who's every lived." Thanks to Chanel, women tossed off their corsets, bobbed their hair, and learned the importance and versatility of "the little black dress."
"Elegance does not consist in putting on a new dress," said the outspoken trendsetter, her design signature, back-to-back C's. She gave the world fake pearls, tweed woven blazers, belted cardigans, and more. By 1938, she had 3,000 employees and a fortune.
A free spirit who used design as her pulpit, she introduced Chanel No. 5 to the world on the fifth day of the fifth month in 1925, naming the perfume after her lucky number. An unusual scent of sparkling magic created by a chemist on the Riviera, it soon became the most sought-after fragrance in the world.
"Women are not flowers," Chanel explained about the unorthodox blend, "why should they want to smell like flowers?"
Chanel loved working with her hands, and rarely, if ever, worked off a drawing or linen prototype. She created, even in later years when plagued by arthritis, with fingers to fabric.
"Those who create are rare; those who cannot are numerous. Therefore, the latter are stronger."
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