Little Bits of History

No. 5

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 10, 2010

Coco Chanel

January 10, 1971: Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel dies. She was born in Saumur, France in 1883, although she alleged she was born in Auvergne in 1893. Her mother died when she was six. She and her four siblings lived with relatives and spent some time in an orphanage, after being abandoned by their father

Capitalizing on her affairs with wealthy men, a military officer and also an English industrialist, she was able to open her own fashion shop in Paris in 1910 where she sold ladies’ hats. She moved to Rue Cambon, a much more fashionable site, within a year. She became the French couturier par excellence and she was the only person in her field that was named in TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

Chanel No. 5 perfume came out in 1921. Her influential Chanel suit hit the runways in 1923. The suit was a classic, usually in woolen tweed, with a knee-length skirt and a mannish boxy jacket. She also gave us the quintessential “little black dress” which should be in every woman’s closet. Although she is most known for her handbags and perfume, Chanel also makes other accessories.

She never married and lived at the Hotel Ritz in Paris for more than 30 years, even during the Nazi occupation. She dated many influential men of the time including Étienne Balsan, Paul Iribe, the Duke of Westminster, Grand Duke Dmitri of Russia, Boy Capel, and Nazi officer Hans Gunther von Dincklage who allowed for her to stay at the Ritz during the war.

“There are a lot of duchesses, but only one Coco Chanel.” – Coco Chanel, commenting as to why she did not marry the Duke of Westminster

“Clothes and manners do not make the man; but, when he is made, they greatly improve his appearance.” – Henry Ward Beecher

“One step up from perfume, the handbag is also the most accessible item an ordinary working woman can afford from a very exclusive house. Status bags are a cheap thrill, comparatively speaking, for those who want business class but are living coach.” – Anna Johnson

“Scheherezade is easy; a little black dress is difficult.” -– Coco Chanel

Also on this day, in 49 BC Julius Caesar made his decision and Crossed the Rubicon.

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  1. The Tube « Little Bits of History said, on January 10, 2011 at 7:06 am

    […] on this day: No. 5 – In 1971, Coco Chanel died. Crossing the Rubicon – In 49 BC, Julius Caesar crossed the […]


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