Why is Coco Chanel so Important? Revolution and Rebellion

Why is Coco Chanel so important?  Coco Chanel was a revolutionary of society as well as  fashion.  It is said she came from nothing to become one of the most important people of the 20th century.

Chanel was a party girl.  In 1906 at the age of twenty three Chanel started an affair with Etienne Balsan a Polo player and heir of the wealthy Balsan family who were part of the upper class circles.

In 1908, Chanel also became the mistress of wealthy English Polo player Captain

Arthur Capel, a friend of Etienne Balsan.  Years later Chanel reminisced of this time in her life, “two gentlemen were outbidding for my hot little body”.

Chanel began designing hats while living with Balsan who lavished her with expensive jewels. Etienne Balsan had introduced his socialite friends to Chanel. Chanel’s first shop in Paris was opened 1910.

In 1913 Arthur Capel financed Chanel’s Paris apartment and shops in Paris and Deauville.  At the beach resort of Deauville, Chanel was able to introduce her ideas of fashion to the most wealthy and influential women of France.   It is in Deauville that Chanel began using men’s jersey fabric to make simple sports dresses and beach wear for women.

The French women who made up Chanel’s “sportswear” clientele would help Chanel in the rebellion against the restrictive corseted, high waist dresses styles of the time. Chanel once said, “luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury”.

Chanel, the revolutionary, is credited for liberating women from “corseted silhouette” by popularizing the acceptance of a sportive, casual chic fashions for women.  It is Chanel who would tear-down male dominated ownership of “haute couture” fashion salons to become the first woman owned fashion house in Paris.

Chanel, a critique of the dominate male design houses of Paris said, “this is how not how women should dress, this is how men dress us” as she innovated women’s fashions to include things that had been part of men’s wardrobes; shirts, pants, beltsth and ties.

Coco Chanel, the “Party Girl” remained a leader of the “Avant Guarde” of Paris because her fashions really changed how women dressed.  Chanel never followed trends, because of her creativity and style, Coco Chanel is still one of the greatest names in fashion history.


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