Perfume “is the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion that heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure,” Coco Chanel.
Not only is Chanel known for its ground-breaking haute couture, its fragrances and perfume, have become one of the most recognised names in perfumery. It offers a range of fragrances for men that are fresh, intense and sophisticated, compare the prices and scents to find the iconic aftershave or eau-de-toilette for you.
The History of Chanel
The luxury French Fashion House was founded by Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel in 1910. Born on August 19 1883 Coco’s early life was a far cry from the glitz and glamour of the red carpet and fashion catwalks that the brand is well known for today. At just 11 years old Coco’s mother died and she was placed in an orphanage to be raised by runs with strict and demanding discipline. The Nuns taught Coco to sew which ignited the passion that would go on to be the focus of her life’s work.
By age 20, Coco had become involved with socialite Etienne Balsan, who, along with Arthur, ‘Boy’ Capel, would be instrumental in helping her to start a millinery business and open her first fashion shop in Paris. Two years later she would open her first couture shop selling sports clothes for women.
Despite the First World War effecting fashion with only a sparse range of materials available and the immobilisation of women for the war effort, Coco continued to create beautiful garments, with many designs being inspired by the military uniform and favouring Jersey fabric because of how it draped and fell from the body. By 1915 Harpers Bizarre reported Coco’s garments were ‘on the list of every buyer’ for the European Clothing factories.
Towards the end of the First World War Coco designed and presented a collection of clothes giving women a more modern, feminine look, whilst also being practical and comfortable. This collection included a collarless jacket and well-fitted skirt, this was the inception of the now infamous ‘Chanel Suit’. Woman began to say au revoir to the uncomfortable corsets and other restrictive items of clothing.
In 1920 the fashion business expanded and Coco commissioned perfumer Ernest Beaux to create a perfume , which went on to be the first perfume to feature a fashion designer’s name and was called Chanel No. 5 after the sample number Coco liked the best.
Originally the perfume was presented to Coco’s couture clients as a gift, however it proved so popular that it became available for sale in 1922. Enjoying the success of the No. 5, new perfumes were developed destined for the North American Market. Working with several well known businessmen and a department store owner a deal was agreed to grow the newly established perfume business. The deal saw Coco receiving only 10% of the profits and despite the increasing popularity of the No. 5 the business relationship deteriorated with Coco repeatedly suing to renegotiate the terms of their deal with little success.
Branching Out – Jewellery
In the 1930’s, not content with couture clothing and perfumes Coco launched an exhibition of jewellery dedicated to the diamond as a fashion accessory. Again her line of products were innovative and revolutionary breaking the traditional categories of either fine or costume jewellery. The designs were inspired by the Orient and Egypt, incorporating both costume jewellery and fine gem stones.
Coco’s designs progressed to evening dresses and womanly fashions of the 1930’s, in particular a chic, modern, black dress, which became known as the ‘Little Black Dress’.
As the international economic depression hit and World War Two began, the ‘La Maison Chanel’ store was forced to close leaving only the jewellery and perfumes for sale. Coco’s personal relationship with a Nazi Intelligence Officer during the War meant rumours were abound that she herself was a Nazi collaborator. Despite investigations, and interrogations Coco was not charged as a collaborator, however public opinion forced her into an 8 year exile.
Return to Fashion
Making a victorious return to fashion at aged 70, Coco received some searing reviews from the press, however her feminine designs were well received by shoppers across the globe.
On the 10 January 1971, aged 87, having never married, Coco died in her apartment at the Hotel Ritz, Paris. Hundreds of mourners gathered at her funeral with many wearing the iconic suits. A little over ten years later, Karl Lagerfield took up the Chanel legacy which continues to thrive to this day.