Coco Chanel

Chanel, Coco (Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel)shənĕlˈ, 1883–1971, French fashion designer b. Saumur. She established a millinery shop in Deauville in 1909, founded her first house of couture there in 1913, and opened in Paris in 1914. An enormously influential designer from the mid-1920s on, she was noted for her simple, elegant modern styles: jersey dresses, especially the "little black dress," and suits; perfumes, notably Chanel No. 5, created in 1922; black or gray pullovers with white piqué collars and cuffs; boxy, braid-trimmed suits; trousers for women; and clothing generally designed for comfort. Among the most imitated of all designers she had a major resurgence of popularity beginning in 1954, when she reopened the business she had closed (1930) at the beginning of World War II. Her fashion empire ranged from Chanel suits and quilted handbags with chains to costume jewelry and a textile house.

See P. Galante, Mademoiselle Chanel (tr. 1973); C. Baillén, Chanel Solitaire (tr. 1974), E. Charles-Roux, Chanel and Her World (tr. 1981, rev. ed. 2005); A. Madsen, A Woman of Her Own (1990); J. Wallach, Chanel (1998); H. Koda et al., Chanel (2005); J. Picardie, Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life (2010); H. Vaughan, Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War (2011); J. Gautier, Chanel: The Vocabulary of Style (2011).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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