courteously cited from a draft I made from TVTropes...
Gabrielle "Coco" Bonheur Chanel (19 August 1883 -
10 January 1971) was the most iconic French couturier ever brought in
history. Her innovative creations shaped The Twentieth Century
and is one of the main contributors that liberated women's fashion,
alongside creating the eponymous fashion brand renowned and distributed
Chanel was born from a poor family, the second child of six, where her mother was laundering and her father was always "travelling"
around France selling goods for the family. After her mother died, she
was sent to a convent, along with her sisters. At the age of twelve,
she learned sewing and other things from the nuns that would inspire her
late life. After working as a seamstress and moonlighting as a stage
singer, she opened a hat shop in 1910 in Paris and sportswear shop in
1913 in Deauville that was immediately adored by her early patrons. By
the time World War One ended, and her notoriety well-known in France, she opened her first couture house at 31 Rue Cambon in Paris in 1918.
The Roaring Twenties was the era of her prime, being participative in women's liberation
at the same time innovative and adaptable. In 1921, with the help of a
professional perfumer, she introduced the Parfum No. 5, alongside other
parfums, makeup and skincare products made later. Other than that, she
experimented in fabrics like jersey and tweed, both originally used in
men's clothes, and in 1926, perfected the Little Black Dress. Not to mention, she popularized the loose silhouette
when she borrowed a fisherman's jacket, wearing pants and cardigan,
donning bobbed hair, short skirts, sparkly beaded dresses, and tanned
skin. All these things shaped The Flapper as is. By the time The Great Depression hit, she was at the height of her fame, all thanks to Hollywood patrons and actresses wearing her designs.
But sadly, as World War Two came, and when the Nazis invaded France, she closed shop and secluded Ritz for the rest of the war. Accused as a collaborateur
from an affair with a Nazi agent, she was acquitted by the British and
Americans and moved to Switzerland, where she left the sewing machine
...for about fifteen years. By that time, Christian Dior was at
his peak, with his silhouette consisting an ultrafeminine chic of long
skirts, narrow shoulders, accented busts and thin waists that was
considered a big break from wartime rationing. Chanel reopened her shop
with a jersey suit contrasting Dior's silhouette, at the age of 70.
While it wasn't well-recieved in Paris due to her wartime association,
it was well-favored by the British and Americans. All the while,
despite the mixed reputation, she continued to run the business in The Sixties and left it running well when it emerged as a fashion empire after her death.
She is the only fashion designer included in TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people of the Twentieth Century and still is.