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By jwblackwell



9 Questions

What is Coco Chanel credited with popularizing in fashion?

What was Chanel's contribution to the fashion world during World War II?

What was Chanel's most famous fragrance creation?

What was Chanel's relationship with the Nazi-German occupiers during World War II?

What was Chanel's first boutique?

What was Chanel's most famous clothing creation?

What was Chanel's inspiration for the Chanel bag?

What did Chanel make fashionable in the mid-1920s?

What was Chanel's relationship with Misia Sert?


Coco Chanel: A Summary of the Life and Career of a Fashion Icon

  • Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, also known as Coco Chanel, was a French fashion designer and businesswoman who founded the Chanel brand.

  • Chanel is credited with popularizing a sporty, casual chic style as the feminine standard of fashion in the post-World War I era.

  • She replaced the corseted silhouette with a simpler, more comfortable, and less expensive style without sacrificing elegance.

  • Chanel is the only fashion designer on Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

  • Chanel extended her influence beyond couture clothing, realizing her aesthetic design in jewelry, handbags, and fragrance, including the iconic Chanel No. 5.

  • Her couture house closed in 1939 due to World War II, and Chanel was criticized for collaborating with the Nazi-German occupiers and the Vichy puppet regime to boost her career.

  • Chanel had a relationship with a German diplomat, Baron (Freiherr) Hans Günther von Dincklage, and collaborated directly with the Nazi intelligence service, the Sicherheitsdienst, according to a 2011 biography by Hal Vaughan.

  • Chanel was not charged as a collaborator due to intervention by British prime minister Winston Churchill.

  • Chanel moved to Switzerland after the war and returned to Paris in 1954 to revive her fashion house.

  • Chanel's early life was marked by poverty, and she learned to sew while living in an orphanage.

  • Chanel had relationships with Étienne Balsan and Captain Arthur Edward 'Boy' Capel, who financed her first shops and influenced the conception of the Chanel look.

  • Chanel collaborated on productions choreographed by Diaghilev and dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, and developed a romantic relationship with Igor Stravinsky.Coco Chanel: Life, Career, and Controversies

  • Coco Chanel was a French fashion designer and businesswoman who founded the Chanel brand.

  • Chanel was born in Saumur, France, in 1883 and was raised in an orphanage.

  • Chanel's first boutique was in Deauville, France, where she sold hats. She later opened boutiques in Biarritz and Paris.

  • Chanel's designs were known for their simplicity and practicality, such as the little black dress and the Chanel suit.

  • Chanel had a long-standing association with Misia Sert, a member of the bohemian elite in Paris, with whom she shared drug use.

  • Chanel had significant relationships with the poet Pierre Reverdy and the illustrator and designer Paul Iribe, both of whom shared her political views.

  • Chanel's place on the throne of haute couture was threatened by her premier rival, the designer Elsa Schiaparelli, whose innovative designs were garnering critical acclaim.

  • During World War II, Chanel resided at the Hotel Ritz, where she had a romantic liaison with Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage, a German aristocrat and member of Dincklage noble family.

  • Chanel used her position as an "Aryan" to petition German officials to legalize her claim to sole ownership of Parfums Chanel, whose directors were Jewish.

  • Chanel committed herself to the German cause as early as 1941 and worked for General Walter Schellenberg, chief of the German intelligence agency Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service), and the military intelligence spy network Abwehr at the Reich Security Main Office in Berlin.

  • Chanel's wartime activities would have seriously threatened the reputation and status of the Chanel brand if made public knowledge.

  • Chanel and the Wertheimers, directors of Parfums Chanel, renegotiated the original 1924 contract, and on 17 May 1947, Chanel received wartime profits from the sale of Chanel No. 5, making her one of the richest women in the world at the time.Coco Chanel's Role in World War II

  • Chanel worked as a spy for the German military intelligence, the Abwehr, during World War II.

  • She was involved in a plan for the Third Reich to take control of Madrid, known as Operation Modellhut.

  • Chanel visited Madrid in 1943 to convince the British ambassador to Spain about a possible German surrender.

  • Chanel and her SS superior, Walter Schellenberg, devised a plan to get Britain to consider a separate peace to be negotiated by the SS.

  • Chanel denied all accusations when requested to appear in Paris before investigators in 1949.

  • In 1954, Chanel re-entered the fashion world and revived her couture house, which was fully financed by her opponent in the perfume battle, Pierre Wertheimer.

  • Chanel's ascendancy was the official deathblow to the corseted female silhouette.

  • Her design aesthetic redefined the fashionable woman in the post–World War I era.

  • Chanel's initial triumph was her innovative use of jersey, a machine-knit material traditionally relegated to the manufacture of undergarments and sportswear.

  • Chanel's introduction of jersey to high-fashion worked well because of the war's shortage of more traditional couture materials and women's desire for simpler and more practical clothes.

  • Chanel continued the trend of ethnic references in haute couture with Slav-inspired designs in the early 1920s.

  • Chanel died on January 10, 1971, at the Hotel Ritz, where she had resided for over 30 years.Key Contributions of Coco Chanel to Fashion

  • Chanel's introduction of the "babushka" headscarf and square-neck, long belted blouses inspired by Russian peasant attire.

  • The Chanel tweed suit, introduced in 1923, was designed for comfort and practicality, without stiffening the material or using shoulder pads.

  • The camellia flower became associated with The House of Chanel and was first used as a decorative element in 1933 on a white-trimmed black suit.

  • The little black dress, often cited as a Chanel contribution to fashion, was introduced in 1912-1913 and became popular during the Great Depression era, as Chanel made it affordable.

  • Chanel's jewelry line was a conceptual innovation, incorporating both costume jewelry and fine gemstones, and inspired by design traditions of the Orient and Egypt.

  • The Chanel bag was introduced in 1929 and updated in 1955 to become the "2.55," which has retained its original basic form.

  • Chanel made suntans fashionable in the mid-1920s, making it acceptable to have a tanned skin, which was earlier considered a mark of laborers.

  • Chanel's contributions to fashion have been depicted in popular culture, such as in theatre and film.

  • Chanel's designs were made for women to move comfortably and easily, such as with functional pockets and measurements taken during fittings.

  • Chanel's jewelry line was a response to the obsession with costly fine jewels, and she believed that fake jewelry was provocative.

  • Chanel's inspiration for the Chanel bag came from her convent days and her love of the sporting world.

  • Chanel's designs were a symbol of privilege and leisure, such as the popularity of the little black dress during the Great Depression era.


Test your knowledge of one of the most influential fashion designers of the 20th century with our quiz on Coco Chanel. Learn about her life, career, controversies, and contributions to fashion with questions on her iconic designs, wartime activities, and personal relationships. From the little black dress to the Chanel bag, discover how Chanel's innovative and practical designs redefined the fashionable woman in the post-World War I era. Take the quiz and see how much you know about this legendary fashion icon.

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