Thursday, January 22, 2009

coco chanel: the ultimate damsel

Coco was the ultimate red lipped, pearl wearing, cigarette smoking, outspoken damsel. Coco's creations have effortlessly passed the test of time, making her a true pioneer of style, not just fashion.
i can't wait to see the upcoming biopic about her called Coco avant Chanel (Coco before Chanel). director Anne Fontaine casted Audrey Tautou as CoCo, and the film should be released sometime this year. her past is pretty interesting....

Coco was born in 1883 to a very poor family in the south of France. at age twelve, her mother died of tuberculosis and her father left the family, forcing her to live in an orphanage. it was there that Coco learned the art of a seamstress. Coco began working for a local tailor near the orphanage where she met French playboy √Čtienne Balsan. Balsan showered Coco with luxurious things, and eventually helped her establish her first store. although the store eventually went out of business, Coco was able to open a new store only years later with the financial support of Balsan's estranged best friend, Arthur "Boy" Capel.

Coco began her fashion career with hats (that were worn by many prominent French actors) but became most known for the style of dress she invented for the 20th century woman based on comfort and simplicity; the ladies' suit, the little black dress...and then there was Chanel No 5. last february, i wrote about chanel no 5 after (clumsily) knocking an entire bottle of it off my dresser and watching fall (in slow motion) to its fragrant death on the floor below. (to cope with my fallen bottle of perfume i did a post on it's history here: "the anti-rose"). the proceeding weeks, my entire suite reeked of ylang-ylang, jasmine, rose, neroli, vanilla, and vetivera. or, as CoCo would've said, it smelled "like a woman, not flowers." my roommates grew to abhor the smell of Chanel no5 unlike who used to request that it be sprayed around her paris apartment.

as Coco's work popularized, people wanted to know more about her past. in an effort to cover up her humble beginnings (and decieve people into thinking she was ten years younger), Coco made up extensive lies. her lying was facilitated by the fact her name was spelled wrong on her birth certificate. her past never seemed to stop her, though, as she was able to establish one of the most successful fashion names in history. she died in 1971, and Karl Lagerfeld took over Chanel in 1983.

Coco Chanel Quotes:

"Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress."

Elegance is not the prerogative of those who have just escaped from adolescence, but of those who have already taken possession of their future.

"Elegance does not consist in putting on a new dress."

"How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone."

“I don't understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little - if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that's the day she has a date with destiny. And it's best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.”

"A woman has the age she deserves."

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