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Know Your Fashion Designers: 10 Facts About Coco Chanel

40 Comments Audrey Tatou as Coco Chanel
Audrey Tatou as Chanel “Coco Before Chanel” (2009)

Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel is perhaps the most well-known fashion designer of all time. Forty years after her death, her namesake fashion house is still one of the world’s most popular luxury brands, boasting legions of devoted fans worldwide, and continues to grow.

And here at CF, it’s safe to say we’re big, big fans of this woman. (We’ve even done an article on fashion inspired by Coco Chanel’s famous quotes!) We certainly count her among our top favorite designers, and we’re sure many of you agree!

So in the spirit of keeping her amazing legacy going, here are ten facts to know about Ms. Chanel, as well as an outfit inspired by her iconic, world-famous style.

10 Fun Facts about Coco Chanel:

Coco Chanel in a Chanel No 5 perfume ad
Chanel posing in her own perfume advertisement (1937)

  • She was born in France in 1883 and was part of a big family, as one of five children.
  • When Coco was 12, her mother passed away from tuberculosis and her father left the family; she spent the next six years in an orphanage.
  • She became a licensed hat-maker and owned her first shop in 1910.
  • She introduced her first perfume, Chanel No. 5, in 1922, and it was one of the first perfumes ever to mix natural and artificial essences.
  • She invented the “Little Black Dress” in 1926, which French Vogue dubbed “Chanel’s Ford”, for its practicality and marketability.
  • She is credited with popularizing the concept of “costume jewelry” in the 1920s, creating seasonal jewelry that mixed fake pearls with real stones.
  • She introduced the idea of using jersey fabric to create clothing, which had prior been used only for men’s undergarments.
  • She and her brand are most well known for costume jewelry, two-tone shoes, quilted bags, and simple suits made of tweed or jersey.
  • Her classic Chanel suit became famous for its flattering cut, simple fabric, and specially weighted lining, to give it that perfect hang.
  • She died in 1971 at the Ritz Hotel in Paris at the age of 88.

Outfit Inspired by Chanel:

Outfit inspired by Coco Chanel and the Chanel brand
Product Information: Dress – American Apparel, Blazer – ASOS, Necklace – Forever 21, Shoes – Forever 21, Purse – Forever 21,  Hat – Topshop

Ms. Chanel was famous for her simple, casual elegance, so pair a basic t-shirt dress and boyfriend blazer with heels and layered pearls for an ensemble that gives off a very “Coco” vibe. And what Chanel girl would be caught without her quilted chain strap purse? Finally, no Chanel-inspired look would be complete without a fun hat to top it off!

One last thing – if you’re wondering why there’s no black in this look, here’s another fun fact: While she may have brought us the Little Black Dress, Coco was also very into neutrals like navy blue and beige, basing many collections around these hues. And now you know!

Extra for Experts:

For more information on Coco Chanel and her world-famous fashion house, check out these books! Just don’t blame us if they’re more interesting than your accounting textbook…

Thoughts on Chanel?

Do you have any other great books on Chanel you’d recommend? Or facts about Coco Chanel that you find most interesting? Please share them with a comment. Also, feel free to suggest any designers you’d like to read about next!

Posted on on January 12, 2011 / Filed Under: Miscellaneous / Tags: , , , , , ,

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40 Responses to “Know Your Fashion Designers: 10 Facts About Coco Chanel”

  1. 1
    January 12th, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Glad to see another Roanoke College studdent on here :)

    love that CF is doing more articles like these!

  2. 2
    January 12th, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Wonderful! Coco Chanel really was an amazing woman, I remember writing a paper on “one of the most influential people of the 20th century” and she’s who I chose. She was incredibly influential on making pants fashionable for women to wear.

  3. 3
    January 12th, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    I love chanel, she was such an interesting, classy woman. My class had a lecture on her in our first year & it’s the only one i remember not wanting to fall asleep in! Hehe.
    I really want to read the book by Karen Karbo, so glad to see it recommended :-)

  4. 4
    January 12th, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Thanks for the info. Very interesting!

  5. 5
    January 12th, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    I’ve seen long necklaces and earrings with the classic chanel logo but where could you buy those? I’ve checked the chanel website but I was not able to find them!

  6. 6
    January 12th, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    great article on! i did an entire research paper on her form english class last mp, and you covered her beautfully. much love! <3

  7. 7
    January 12th, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    I love articles like these and I love CoCo.
    vivi- I think you might actually have to check out a Chanel boutique to get the necklace.

  8. 8
    January 12th, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    I love this!!! I love learning about designers, and i feel like i have so much to learn!

  9. 9
    January 12th, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    i absolutely love coco! she was what made me fall in love with fashion!! so classic and amazing! if only she was still alive:/

    she will live on forever(:

  10. 10
    January 13th, 2011 at 12:16 am

    Great article! Coco Chanel is such an inspiring woman!

  11. 11
    January 13th, 2011 at 6:37 am

    I really like the movie coco before chanel. She was a woman way ahead of her time!

  12. 12
    January 13th, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Favorite post of the week! Thank you for this… I can always count on you to teach me something new about something or someone I thought I knew inside out.

    Yours Truly

  13. 13
    January 14th, 2011 at 10:42 am

    chanel was also a nazi sympathizer…

  14. 14
    January 14th, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Oh please continue this series! I love to read about designers! Can’t wait!!! :)

  15. 15
    January 17th, 2011 at 7:59 am

    Adored this post. Thanks! Great read :)

  16. 16
    January 26th, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    I love the fashion inspiration, she is one of my favorite designers.

  17. 17
    March 1st, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    I love learning about fashion designer. I wanna be one day.:)

  18. 18
    May 11th, 2012 at 5:28 pm


  19. 19
    June 5th, 2012 at 2:56 am

    glad that the shop is still opened,also glad the everyone still remembers her

  20. 20
    June 17th, 2012 at 2:48 pm


  21. 21
    September 16th, 2012 at 11:35 am

    She actually died at the age of 87

  22. 22
    September 28th, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    I think Coco Chanel was a great, lucky girl and was very cool but I can’t believe she died at 97 years old.

  23. 23
    January 9th, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    She was also a spy for the SS during WWII

    Just saying…

  24. 24
    February 3rd, 2013 at 6:42 am

    Although some of those facts are true, you got her death wrong.
    1) She died in her apartment.
    2) She was 87.

    Also, she was bisexual, a nazi sympathizer (even dated a nazi officer), and worked as a spy for the SS.

    I love her designs and what she’s done for fashion, but it’s unfortunate that she was openly anti-semitic.

  25. 25
    February 4th, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Need it for French H/W (miss Gomez)
    Shes very very Fit

  26. 26
    May 13th, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Cassandra- Yes, she died in her apartment, but, her apartment was located in the Ritz Hotel.

    Wonderful article!

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