Coco Chanel (1883 – 1971) opened a millinery shop in Paris in 1909 and went on to launch her own couture houses in Paris, Deauville and Biarritz. From humble origins, she became one of the greatest icons of fashion in the 20th century.
The creator of the little black dress and Chanel No. 5, Chanel pioneered a new style of women’s clothes, combining simplicity and comfort with elegance, to create an unmistakable style which had a great influence over the fashions of the 1920s and 30s.
Her innovations in costume jewellery were introduced through her Paris salon, where she opened a boutique specializing in accessories and jewellery.
Instead of copying the style of fine jewellery, her costume jewellery was designed specifically to reflect the elegant simplicity of her clothes and to compliment and ‘finish’ an outfit.
The simple but effective use of multiple strings of faux pearls with a black pullover epitomises this style. Other key pieces for Chanel include gold tone chains, pate-de-verre jewellery from Maison Gripoix and classic Maltese cross cuffs designed by Verdura. more...Chanel closed her business when she was exiled to Switzerland during World War II, following her affair with a Nazi officer.
She re-invented the Chanel brand throughout the 1950s and into 1960s, working with designer Robert Goossens, producing long, rosary style necklaces, with chains of pearls and beads, and Maltese cross brooches decorated with glass cabochons in her signature colours of red and green.
In the mid 1950s the House of Chanel introduced leather handbags with metal and leather chains, which allowed carrying the handbag from the shoulder or in hand, and later, quilted-leather handbags.
After the death of Coco Chanel in 1971, control of the company passed to the Wertheimer family who had been shareholders and partners in the business since the late 1920s.
In the 1990s the company diversified into other luxury goods, including watches, sunglasses, all types of clutches and bags, and affordable jewellery.
As of the present time, Chanel S.A., known as the House of Chanel, is a French private company, that remains in the ownership of billionaires Gerard and Alain Wertheimer.
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