I'm looking at a black-and-white photo of a young woman with wild black curly hair, nothing special about her face, she isn't even pretty, I guess. If I had been her contemporary and someone had told me that one day this lady would turn the world of fashion ruled by men upside down, I'd have never believed. Now Coco Chanel (name at birth Gabrielle Chanel) is not only a well-recognized and lavish brand but an icon of understated style, none would argue, right?
Chanel is a big name, but what is behind it? Can anyone become such a prominent and outstanding person or it's destined? Who then selects those people? God? I actually don't think so. It's up to you to choose your life path, set aims and achieve them. Nothing is impossible for a willing heart, you know. Coco's life is a perfect example of this.
She used to have been ordinary, but one day she decided to be different.
What are "the different" like? Basically, they know what they want and don't have any reservations about their mission. Moreover, they never give up to reach their goals. Even if they are bound to lose everything and everybody they value and care about as they are mentally ready for a solitary life. Coco underwent a lot of highs and lows - she endured terrible years in the orphanage, survived in the Second World war, she was prosecuted by French legal authorities for close relationships with a Nazi officer and had to leave her beloved France to escape disrespect and ostracism - those years abroad were full of desperate homesick, so she came back and managed to deserve Parisians' admiration and loyalty again. As the Chinese proverb says they fall eight times but they always take nine tries to rise.
She closed all her boutiques and factories at the age of 56, and successfully reopened them when she was 71! Coco Chanel proved that age means nothing for talented people. And she was really classy and excellent in everything she did. She gave women freedom of choice in what to wear and what hairstyle to have: it was her who introduced male elements into female clothes such as trousers, suits, ties, etc and Coco was the first woman to cut her hair short and make it a real trend all over the world. Suntan was considered to be an indicator of belonging to a low class, Coco broke down that prejudice, to tell the truth by chance: at one of her weekends at the sea she spent more time than usual in the sun and a few days later she came up in public with her bronze tint skin, which was caught up as a new fashion. I also consider her perfume Chanel №5 unsurpassed fragrance. Why № 5? Just because - it was Coco’s lucky number.
It'll be unfair if I skip to mention some facts about her
that are believed to be rather controversial. For me personally, one of the most unpleasant and perplexing things to know was the fact that she was a pro-Nazi sympathizer and shared their anti-semitic and homophobic ideology... what’s more, she actively collaborated with fascists during occupation. She was addicted to morphine, to cut the long story short. In post-war France Coco managed to escape prison only owing to her friend Winston Churchill.
In 1939 when World War II broke out in Europe she dismissed thousands of workers from her factories due to austerity reasons: fashion industry wasn't profitable any longer. On the other hand, that meant Chanel didn't care much about her fellow citizens who were bound to struggle against poverty and hunger.
I also read that Chanel was rather generous to provide some individuals (mostly artists) with significant financial support, but at the same time she had never been noticed in any charity events such as helping the homeless, disabled or abandoned children. She invested her money and time in only what or maybe who she liked, which reveals a high level of egocentrism.
In the long run, I can't say Coco Chanel was a genius. She was inventive and creative, she was independent,resolute and determined and never missed even a slight opportunity to learn, mostly from her lovers, who belonged to either aristocratic or artistic circles (she was close friends with Duke of Westminster Hugh Grosvenor, Igor Stravinsky, Sergey Dyagilev, Dmitry Romanov and many others - Chanel just had a keen eye on beautiful laconism around her and masterfully reproduced it in fashion field. Women all over the world wear her "little black dress” and tweed jackets with deep gratitude. It’s a fact. As for her biased personality, I don’t think that I have the right to judge.
Coco went to work every day until she died in her sleep at the age of 87.
After her death they found just three outfits in her wardrobe. They were all perfect.....
P.S Some of her quotes speak for themselves and prove her snobbish nature:
"I don't care what you think about me. I don't think about you at all.”
"I don't do fashion, I AM fashion.”
"If blonde, use blue perfume”
But at the same time I absolutely agree with:
"Women think of all colors except the absence of color. I have said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony.”
"A woman has the age she deserves.”