Behind the Name Part 1: Chanel

When you think of designers, luxury and full-on to-die-for glamour, one name that instantly springs to mind is Chanel.

Famous for quilted bags, Little Black dresses and that iconic double C logo, the French fashion house is one of the most well known and instantly recognisable brands in the world.

With a new film biopic about its legendary creator, Coco Chanel, due out this year the line is currently more high profile and successful than ever.

Coco Chanel was born in 1883 and first established the House of Chanel in 1909 when she opened the first millinery shop, called Chanel Modes, in Paris. She retained the role of chief designer for the company until her death in 1971.

Chanel was famous for revolutionising haute couture by introducing comfortable, casual suits and dresses at a time when the fashion world was dominated by constricting corsets.

With a plethora of famous French actresses soon sporting Chanel’s hats, her reputation was soon established and in 1913 women’s sportswear was introduced following the start of World War One.

The jersey clothing was ideal for the women having to take on hard working, practical factory jobs while the men were away fighting.

With the liberation of women following the war Chanel clothing became known for allowing freedom of movement in comfortable, fluid designs and practical sporty wear as ladies left their kitchens and began to enjoy more active lives.

The first Chanel couture house was opened in 1915 to introduce other revolutionary fashion lines to the brand.

Since then it has gone from strength to strength and is now one of the most famous and desirable labels in the world.

This is, in part, due to the reign of Karl Lagerfeld at the helm. One of the most iconic designers of recent times, with his leather gloves and long silver hair he is instantly recognisable.

Continuing to combine current trends with the class and simplicity of original designs Lagerfeld has a strong vision and continues to keep the brand at the forefront of the fashion world.

There are certain things that always spring to mind when you think of Chanel. It’s likely that all of us have lusted after a quilted bag seen on the arm of anyone who’s anyone at the moment.

Hugely popular with the rich and famous they are instantly recognisable with a chain handle and double C shaped lock on the front. The epitome of luxury they are always made from lambskin, fur or calfskin.

The Little Black Dress, a staple of women’s wardrobes across the globe, was introduced by Coco Chanel in 1926 and is one of the defining pieces of the company’s success.

It was seen as a vital piece of clothing that could take a lady effortlessly from day to night and was a necessity in any fashionista’s wardrobe.

Classic monochrome designs and polished, ladylike styles are common along with the use of tweed fabrics, which began with the traditional ‘Chanel Suit’.

Chanel is also famous for its jewellery collections and, of course, perfume. The signature fragrance No. 5 was created after a fortune teller told Coco Chanel that her lucky number was five. It was released on the fifth day of the fifth month of the year, May 5th 1921.

Ever popular with the rich and sophisticated Marilyn Monroe was famously said: “What do I wear in bed? Why, Chanel No. 5, of course.”

Kiera Knightly has also recently landed the role as the face of the new Coco Mademoiselle advertising campaign.

Along with ready-to-wear and haute couture shows, Chanel presents it’s Cruise Collection every year.

The recent showing was an extremely lavish affair. Held in Los Angeles there were private jets with the iconic linked C’s decorating the outside and a whole host of the most famous celebrities decked head to toe in Lagerfeld creations.

Ultimately, Chanel was, and always will be, one of the most established and glamorous fashion houses in the world, creating new and beautiful designs for us to lust after year after year.

Female First – Jacqueline Farrer