Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel
Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel
Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel was one of the 20th century's most influential couturiers. A milliner by training, she moved beyond hats to become a rebel and a trailblazer of the fashion world, creating a new sartorial style that liberated women from corsets and lace frills by offering them sailor shirts and wide-leg pants instead.

Women's trousers
Chanel didn't invent women's pants - they had already entered wardrobes during World War I, when women started taking jobs traditionally carried out by men. But she undeniably popularized them as a fashion garment.
The designer liked wearing pants herself (she often borrowed them from her male lovers), and, as early as 1918, began sporting flowy "beach pyjamas" while vacationing on the French Riviera. Drawing inspiration from the straight, wide cuts of sailor's pants, giving them a loose, comfortable shape, she matched them with oversized shirts or sleeveless tops.

Nautical tops
French sailors and fishermen had been sporting Breton tops - striped sweaters made from tightly knit wool to protect them from the elements - since the 19th century. Chanel, however, turned them into fashion.
She reworked them in jerseys, giving them patch pockets and accessorizing them with thick belts.
Soon enough, Breton stripes could be found in the pages of both British and American Vogue. And even today, chances are you have some in your closet.

The little black dress
In 1926, Vogue published a drawing of a simple, calf-length black dress fashioned from crêpe de Chine. It featured long narrow sleeves and a low waist and was adorned with a string of pearls. The magazine described it as "Chanel's Ford". Its unique combination of features: affordable, accessible, chic, simple, timeless and feminine. It still is! Today every woman has a little black dress hanging in her closet.
Nautical tops
Channel dressed in flowing "beach pajamas" during a vacation on the French Riviera in 1918
The little black dress
The Chanel suit
The 2.55 bag
Chanel No.5
The Chanel suit was a game-changer - not just for fashion but for women's sartorial liberation.
Coco Chanel introduced her first two-piece set in the 1920s, inspired by menswear and sportswear, as well as the suits of her then-lover, the Duke of Westminster. Keen to liberate women from the restrictive corsets and long skirts of previous decades, Chanel crafted a slim skirt and collarless jacket made of tweed, a fabric then considered markedly unglamorous.
One of the most iconic Chanel bags of all time, the 2.55 subverted all the rules when it launched in February 1955 (hence the name). It was the first luxury bag for women to come with a shoulder strap - earlier clutches, including those from Chanel, all needed to be carried by hand.
Chanel launched her eponymous No.5 perfume in 1921. A year before, so the legend goes, she had challenged French-Russian perfumer Ernest Beaux to create a scent that would make its wearer "smell like a woman, and not like a rose." The result was a mixture of 80 natural and synthetic ingredients, which Beaux presented her with a numbered series of perfume samples to choose from. She picked the fifth.
When Marilyn Monroe was asked what she wore to bed, and she answered, "Just a few drops of Chanel No 5″.
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