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Chanel S.A., commonly known as Chanel ,is a Parisian fashion house created by Coco Chanel. Specializing in luxury goods (haute couture, ready-to-wear, handbags, perfumery, and cosmetics among others), the Chanel label has become one of the most recognized names in luxury and haute couture fashion[citation needed].[1] According to Forbes, the privately held House of Chanel is jointly owned by Alain Wertheimer and Gerard Wertheimer who are the grandsons of the early (1924) Chanel partner Pierre Wertheimer.

design”>design”>”>design buttonRivals of la Maison de Chanel include the Parisian fashion labels of Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, and Herms.[2] Other competitors are Bvlgari, Cartier, Gianfranco Ferre, Versace, Gucci, and Prada.[2] The company has had many high-profile celebrities as spokesmodels, including Catherine Deneuve (1970s Chanel No.5 spokesmodel), Nicole Kidman (previous Chanel No. 5 spokesmodel), Audrey Tautou (current Chanel No.5 spokesmodel)[3].

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel (b.1883 – d.1971) began her fashion career in 1910. She heralded new designs and revolutionized the fashion industry by going ack to basics,incorporating elegance, class, and originality. Under her tight reign from 1909-1971, Coco Chanel held the title as hief Designer until her death on January 10, 1971.

In 1909, Gabrielle Chanel opened a small shop on the ground floor of the Balsan’s apartment in Paris – the simple beginnings of what would later become one of the greatest fashion empires in the world.[1] The Balsan home was a meeting place of the hunting elite of France and the gentlemen brought along with them their fashionable mistresses, giving Coco the opportunity to sell the women decorated hats. During this time Coco Chanel struck up a relationship with Arthur Capel, a member of the Balsan men’s group and the only one who worked for a living).[1]

He saw a great potential businesswoman in Coco and helped her acquire her legendary location at 31 Rue de Cambon in Paris by 1910…thus founding Chanel Modes.[1] There was a drawback to the plan because since there was already a couture shop in the building, Coco was not allowed in her lease to produce couture dresses.[1] In 1913, Chanel introduced womensportswear at her new boutique in Deauville and Biarritz, France. She detested the fashions of women who came to these resort towns, trying to outdo each others fashions with frills, flounces, large hats, tight corsets and long skirts.[1] By comparison, Chanel’s designs tended to be more simple and elegant than opulent in look (common haute couture fashion of the Belle ?poque).[4] World War I greatly affected fashion. Coal was scarce and women were taking on factory jobs in the men’s stead and, as such, they needed warm clothing that would stand up to working conditions. Chanel’s designs from this era were also greatly affected by the relatively new idea of women’s sports. During World War I, Coco opened another larger shop on Rue de Cambon in front of the H?tel Ritz Paris.[1] Here she sold flannel blazers, straight linen skirts, sailor tops, long jersey sweaters and skirt-jackets.[1] Her styles and materials had a rather radical simplicity to them as well.[1] Her fashion became known in 1915 throughout France for prioritizing freedom of movement by not featuring ostentation and redundancy in her designs. In the years 1915 and 1917, Harper’s Bazaar mentioned that Chanel’s name was “on the list of every buyer.”[1] Her boutique at 31 Rue Cambon previewed increasingly simple day dress-and-coat ensembles and black evening dresses in lace or jet-embroidered tulle (she also piled cushions of feathers, fur and metallic fabrics on the sofas in the gray and amber salons).[1]

Coco Chanel established herself a great reputation as a meticulous fashion couturier.[1] Following the fashion trends of the 1920s, Chanel produced beaded dresses, but with her only unique image.[1] The suit in two or three pieces created in 1920 remains a modern popular fashion look. The suit was advocated as the “new uniform for afternoon and evening as far back as 1915.” 1921 saw the introduction of her first perfume Chanel No. 5.[1] Earnest Beaux created the fragrance for Coco and she named it after her lucky number 5.[1] The Chanel trademark simplicity was expressed in the square design of the bottle: It has never changed since then.[1] The fragrance was an immediate success and was a special hit with the women of high society. Reportedly, the signature scent was a result of her belief in superstitions. She was scheduled to show her collection on the fifth day of the fifth month.[5] Coco informed Harper’s Bazaar, implicity is the keynote of all true elegance,” in 1923.


Parfums Chanel[2] was founded in 1924 by Pierre Wertheimer (in collaboration with Coco Chanel) to produce and sell perfumes and beauty products.[2] Theophile Bader (founder of the successful French department store Galeries Lafayette) was the man who introduced Coco to Wertheimer.[2] Wertheimer retained 70% of Parfums Chanel, while Bader retained 20%, and Coco a modest 10%.[2] Under unjust terms (which were possibly inspired by sexism), Coco was forced to operate her couture business apart from Parfums Chanel.[2] In 1924, Coco also introduced her first costume jewelry which were a pair of pearl earrings, one black, one white.[1] Along with the success of her haute couture business, Coco herself grew her “social desirability and her personal legend.”[1] A new love interest in her life was the Duke of Westminster.[1] She introduced to the world her signature cardigan jacket in 1925. In 1926, Chanel introduced the ittle black dress,greeted by Vogue as the ew uniform of the modern woman.That same year, Chanel introduced the classic tweed. Inspired by visits to Scotland with the Duke of Westminster, Chanel created her first tweed suits. Soon, Coco operated a boutique near the renowned Louvre museum.[2]

As the couture Chanel and Parfums Chanel gained success, business relations between Coco and Pierre were sour.[2] She grew resentment for ever partnering with Pierre Wertheimer and believed she deserved more then 10% in shares. Coco saw that the Wertheimers were attempting to exploit her talents for their own personal gain.[2] She also expressed that she unwillingly signed away the rights to her own name.[2] Nevertheless, Wertheimer fired back by reminding Coco that he had funded her venture (allowing her to present her creations to the market), and that he had made her a relatively wealthy woman.[2]

Coco hired Ren de Chambrun as her attorney for renegotiating the terms with the Wertheimers.[2] Sadly. they crushed her attempts.[2] 

Evening couture dresses from Chanel evolved into looks more enlongated, feminine, and “almost fantastical.”[1] Summer dresses have contrasting scintillating touches (e.g. rhinestone straps and silver eyelets).[1] Coco also designed special dresses in 1937 for petite women whom she pitied their looks when seated in theaters.[1] Throughout the 1930s, the House of Chanel gained competition from Elsa Schiaparelli, a couturier like her whom she called “that Italian artist who makes clothes.”[1] Essentially, Schiaparelli was not a threat, as her popularity was only limited to the 1930s.[1] However much Schiaparelli proved to be a great designer, Coco remained original and avoided imitating her styles.[1] Chanel premiered an exhibition of jewelry in 1932 dedicated to the diamond. Several of the pieces, including the “Comet” and “Fountain” necklaces were re-introduced by Chanel in 1993. When World War II began in 1939, Coco Chanel retired and moved into the H?tel Ritz Paris with her new beau, Nazi officer Hans Gunther von Dincklage.[2][1][4] Only her parfums and accessories were sold in her existing boutiques.

When France fell under the control of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany in 1940, the Nazi’s made the Ritz their French headquarters.[1] Pierre Wertheimer and his family fled to the United States in 1940, and before Coco could take the opportunity to take full control over Parfums Chanel, Wertheimer made an “Aryan proxy” for the company.[2] Throughout Paris, rumors and gossip spread out about Coco actually being in “more the friendly terms with Germans.”[1] Chanel biographer Edmonde Charles-Roux states that German intelligence sent her to “visit Winston Churchill as a part of a secret peace mission. Coco Chanel was arrested immediately after the liberation of France and charged with abetting the Germans, but Churchill intervened on her behalf and she was released. “[2] When France was liberated after the fall of the Nazi Empire, many French people meted out punishments to French women who were believed to have collaborated with the Nazis. Coco Chanel was without a doubt a target after the rumors, and so she fled to Switzerland.

In Coco’s absence, Pierre Wertheimer returned to Paris to control Wertheimer family holdings. In spite, Coco created her own collection of parfums. Wertheimer felt his legal rights harassed, but wanted to avoid a court battle,. So, he settled with Coco by giving her $400,000 USD, agreed to pay her 2% royalty from all Chanel products, and gave her limited rights to sell her own parfums in Switzerland. Ironically, Coco stopped making parfums after the agreement. She sold the complete rights to her name to the Wertheimers for Parfums Chanel, in echange for a monthly stipend. The stipend provided her and her paramour von Dincklage with enough money to suffice for them a life of high class.[2]

Chanel returned to Paris in 1953.[1] She found that her popularity had been forgotten in the wake of fashion designer Christian Dior. Dior had created the dramatic “New Look” in 1947, which dominated fashion throughout the 1940s and 1950s.[1] The New Look was becoming outdated, and so the 71 year-old Coco decided to make her comeback with perfect timing. Coco re-approached Pierre for business advise and financial back-up. In return, he gained complete rights to all products stamped with the name “Chanel.”[2] Their re-collaboration paid off as Chanel became the top label in fashion again.[2] Chanel re-introduced the “Chanel suit” which formed as a basis for many of her collections. Coco introduced the Chanel chain handled quilted leather handbags in February 1957 (named 2.55).[1] They remain highly in demand even today.[1] That same year, Chanel launched her first eau de toilette for men, Pour Monsieur. As well in 1957 at the Fashion Awards in Dallas, Chanel and her spring collection received the Fashion Oscar. The fashion world applauded her as the ost influential designer of the twentieth century.Pierre later bought Badar’s 20% share (giving his family 90% in the parfums business).[2] Pierre retired in 1965 and died in 1967. his son Jaques Wertheimer took over in his place in 1965.[2] Coco’s attorney Chambrun called the now-gone-relationship as “one based on a businessman’s passion for a woman who felt exploited by him.”[2] He told Forbes, “Pierre returned to Paris full of pride and excitement [after one of his horses won the 1956 English Derby]. He rushed to Coco, expecting congratulations and praise. But she refused to kiss him. She resented him, you see, all her life.”[2]

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel died on January 10, 1971 at the age of 88.[1] Supposedly she was still “designing, still working” at the time of her death.[1] Leadership of the company was handed down to Yvonne Dudel, Jean Cazaubon and Phlippe Guibourge.[1] The House continued average success, and Jacques Wetheimer bought the entire House of Chanel.[2][1] Critics stated that during his leadership, he never paid much attention with Chanel as he was more interested in horse breeding.[2] However, Coco’s influence did not pass with her death. Other posthumous projects came to light a few years later. In 1974, the House of Chanel launched Cristalle eau de toilette, which was in the workings when Coco Chanel was alive. 1978 saw the launch of the first non-couture, prporter line and worldwide distribution of accessories.

Alain Wertheimer, Jaques son, took over in 1974. Back in the U.S. Chanel No.5 was now seen as a second-rate fragrance for out-of-date women.[2] Alain revamped Chanel No.5 sales by reducing the number of outlets who carried the fragrance from 18,000 to 12,000. He also removed the perfume from drugstore shelves, and invested millions of dollars in advertisement for Chanel cosmetics. This ensured a greater sense of scarcity and exclusivity for No.5, and sales rocketed back up as the demand for the fragrance increased.[2] Alain attempted to also revamp Chanel’s reputation in fashion. Looking for a designer who could bring the label to new heights, he persuaded Karl Lagerfeld to end his contract with fashion house Chloe.

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