timeline

born 1883

Gabrielle Chanel was just 12 years old when her mother died. Her father abandoned their 5 children, sending Coco and her 2 sisters to live at Aubazine Abbey, a French orphanage. Nuns taught her to be a seamstress, a trade that ultimately brought her fame under the name Coco Chanel ~ although she could not sketch and hated to sew.

Her first store ~ launched in 1910 with funding from her playboy boyfriend Boy Capel ~ featured mostly hats. On a chilly day in Deauville, France, she fashioned a chic jersey dress to battle the cold. The dress grabbed attention and sparked her signature line. Today, Chanel is among the most valuable brands in the world, synonymous with classic style + superior quality.

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Coco Chanel (10)

"I never wanted to weigh more heavily on a man than a bird."

with German journalist | {1930s}

"All I want from you are wildflowers picked by your own hands."

to Hugh Grosvenor, Duke of Westminster | 1930s

"If you're sad, add more lipstick and attack."

Inside Chanel | unknown

"Mediocrity doesn't appeal to me."

with British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge | september 1944

"Fashion is made to be unfashionable. I design my clothes always for tomorrow."

LIFE magazine | august 1957

"Fashion is like a revolution—it only enters our lives after it has gone down into the streets."

LIFE magazine | august 1957

"Why did I return? One night at dinner Christian Dior said a woman could never be a great couturier."

LIFE Magazine | august 1957

"I can only work with people who love me and these people do! I tell them, 'Have dignity. This is a profession. Step out and look them in the eye.'"

LIFE Magazine | august 1957

"If I can only get out into the fresh air I'll always revive."

LIFE magazine | august 1957

"Nothing is more aging than trying to look younger, it’s the stupidest thing a woman can do, thinking 'if I’m wearing trousers, I’ll look younger than if I’m wearing a skirt'."

Coco Chanel on fame, trousers, creativity and the Moon | 1969
  • Quotabelle profile
  • Coco Chanel

curated with care by Shelagh Bolger & Pauline Weger {july 2014}