THE 88 YEARS OF CHANEL Coco Chanel . By Ida Rosenstein
Bibliography 1. Different like Coco, Matthews, Elizabeth 2007 2. Chanel : Her style and life, Wallach, Janet 1998 3. Coco Chanel: Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion, 2005 4. The secret life of Coco Chanel, Justine Picardie 2010
Introduction • The Chanel fashion house has been famous for many years and still is today. It was started by an extraordinaryperson by the name of Gabrielle “Coco” Bonheur Chanel. She changed fashion for women, created the “little black dress”, and had a string of romances, including one with a millionaire and a Nazi spy. She started her life as a poor orphan and died as a famous multi-millionaire fashion designer. The story of Coco Chanel’s life is a true “rags to riches” tale.
CHILDHOOD • Coco Chanel was born on August 19, 1882 in Saumur France . Her full name was Gabrielle “Coco “ Bonheur Chanel. She was the daughter of Albert Chanel and Jeanne Devolle, with five siblings. Her father was an itinerantsalesman. Coco was just twelve when her mother died. As for her father, he abandoned Coco and her siblings. Coco was sent to an orphanage at Aubazine. Coco would visit her grandparents. In 1900 she moved there permanently and attended a convent school where she was taught to sew by nuns.
Starting Business • Coco got an early start to her career. She sang at stylish cafés. Coco got her nickname from the song she sang, “Qui Qu’ a Vu Coco Dans le Trocodero”. Coco would trim boater hats and was soon asked to make copies. Chanel snuck into her first polo match, where she met millionaire polo player, Arthur Capel, otherwise known as “Boy”. He gave her the money she needed to open up her very own hat shop on a fashionable street in Paris.
StartinG Business Continued • Coco opened up another shop with the help of Boy. Chanel made drop-waist dresses, tailored pants, black jackets and jewelry. Her style gave women freedom and movement. Not only did she make pants, but evening dresses too, including a black sleeveless frock, with a white pearl collar. This was known as “the little black dress”, which is still popular today.
PERSONAL STYLE • Chanel cut her hair short in a “bob” style and wore lots of red lipstick with a knee length loose drop waist dress. Her style was not like anyone else’s compared to the tightcorsets long poofy dresses and ruffled petticoats of the time. When she walked down the streets she would hear people whispering things like “why is she wearing men’s clothing”. One day, Chanel borrowed one of “Boy’s”jerseysweaters. To not mess up her neat flat hair, she cut it in the front trimmed it with a ribbon and added a bow. The sweater inspired Chanel to use jersey for her new line of clothing.
Coco’s Dark Side • In 1940, during WWII, the Nazis took over Paris. People left Paris, including Coco. But, Coco also thought her business could be successful during the war, so Chanel moved back to Paris. The Nazis had taken over the Ritz Hotel, where Coco had her apartment. Coco had a romance with a Nazi spy. She was asked by one of his commanders, to set up a meeting with the British to talk about an end to the war. Coco met up with a British man, who refused to the meeting. At the end of the war, Chanel was arrested for helping the Nazis. Soon after the arrest, she was set free. Everyone hated Coco for what she had done. So, Chanel moved to Switzerland and closed her business.
LAST DAYS • After 15 years in Switzerland, Coco wanted to design again. She moved back to Paris, at the age of 70, an opened up her business again. Coco did a fashion show that was hated by the French and English, because she helped the Nazis during the war. But the show was loved by the Americans. This made her famous once again. Chanel’s fashion house soon became one of the most famous fashion brands in the world. Coco designed and ran her business until she died at the age of 88.
summary • Coco’s life was not all sunshine and rainbows, but she overcame her hard times to become a world famous fashion designer. Coco’s style and design was elegant and simple. Women wanted to look like Coco and she made fashion comfortable and chíc. As Coco said, “Luxury must be comfortable, or it is not luxury”. Although Chanel died 42 years ago, her business is a symbol of luxury and high fashion. Karl Lagerfeld is now the designer for the House of Chanel.
QUIZ • 1. What was Coco’s first name? • A. Colette Chanel • B. Gabrielle Chanel • C. Molly Chanel
QUIZ • 2. Who helped Coco pay for her first shop? • A. Her dad • B. The nuns • C. Boy Capel
QUIZ • 3. What was the Chanel evening dress called? • A. Black evening dress • B. Midnight shine • C. The little black dress
QUIZ • 4. What did Coco sell in her first shop? • 1. Hats • 2. perfume • 3. shoes
QUIZ • 5. Where did Coco move after the War? • A. Ponyland • B. America • C. Swizerland
vocabulary • Extraordinary: amazing , cool • Itinerant: traveling from place to place • Frock: dress • Jersey: a fabric they make t-shirts out of • Corsets: a piece of clothing to tighten the waist