Legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel is often credited with reinventing “the modern woman.” Through bringing simplicity, elegance and comfort to women’s wardrobes, she freed them from the constrictive clothing reflective of women’s social status and created a new image of femininity.
To celebrate International Women’s Month and Chanel’s lasting legacy in fashion, join Armoire in March for a chance to win a vintage Chanel bag. We’ll be announcing the winner of this timeless lambskin bag valued at $2,000 on April 1st.
Learn more about fashion legend Coco Chanel and her iconic clothing and entrepreneurial spirit that has inspired boss ladies for decades.
The Boss Lady Behind the Design
While many know the iconic designs synonymous with the Chanel name, few know the story of the boss lady behind them. Unsurprisingly, Coco Chanel lived a fascinating and polarizing life. She once said, “My life didn’t please me, so I created my life.”
The style icon’s early life could not be farther from her legacy of luxury. Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel was born in France in 1883 and first learned to sew from the nuns in the orphanage where she spent most of her childhood. In 1915— just five years after Chanel opened her first boutique— Harper’s Bazaar wrote, “The woman who hasn’t at least one Chanel is hopelessly out of fashion.”
In 1926, Chanel released what Vogue would come to describe as the “frock that the world will wear.” The shift-style calf-length, drop-waist black dress is considered the first iteration of the LBD. Through her elegant touch, Chanel took the style from funeral to front-page fashion. Chic and simple, the LBD was an instant classic.
As one of few female designers of her time, Coco Chanel’s iconic looks were influenced by what she herself enjoyed wearing. Her revolutionary designs broke away from restrictive styles in favor of practicality. Chanel loosened waistlines, shortened hems and traded her skirts for pants, creating the wardrobe of independent women everywhere.
Revolutionary Designs for Working Women
Chanel’s luxurious casual clothes stood out amongst the extravagant dresses of the time. Women found liberation through her minimalist elegance, finally freed from the corsets, lace and frills that quite literally restrained them for so long.
Chanel’s classic tweed suit is undoubtedly her most recognizable ensemble. The look provided women with a professional office outfit that didn’t sacrifice femininity or skimp on fashion sense. Her collarless blazers embellished with braided trim and decorative buttons were a favorite of Jackie O, Princess Diana and Barbara Walters alike.
One of Chanel’s most widely recognizable designs is her quilted shoulder bag. Unlike the short-strapped bags of the time, her cross-body style bags freed women’s hands, making it an It Bag for decades to come. The Large Quilted Vintage Chanel Camera Bag we’re giving away to one lucky new member is a timeless take on the classic style. It’s equally as chic today as it was when it was released in the early 1990’s.
At a time when working women were few and far between, Chanel’s foresight of female empowerment through fashion allowed her designs to stand the test of time. Her entrepreneurial spirit and practical designs have served as inspiration for boss ladies over the decades. To put it in her words, “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”
The Lasting Legacy of Chanel Inspired Fashion
Though most women don’t have the financial means to afford her designer price tags, Chanel inspired designs have become commonplace in today’s fashion world. From her iconic tweed fabrics to quilted purses and even the little black dress, Chanel’s influence is seen far and wide across the fashion industry. Luckily, Chanel saw imitation as a sincere form of flattery.
Chanel brought touches of subtle luxury to her understated aesthetic, popularizing the designer fragrances and costume jewelry she frequently wore. Interestingly enough, Chanel’s iconic double C logo was not designed by Coco Chanel herself but by her successor, Karl Lagerfeld. The equally prolific designer stepped into the role of Creative Director from 1983 until his death in 2018. Under the direction of these two fashion legends, the Chanel brand remained the pinnacle of luxury fashion for the past century.