I'm in love with the Coco
Uh oh. Guess what day it is? Guess what day it is?! Huh...anybody?
It's Coco Chanel's birthday! If she were still with us, she would be the coolest 132 year old around! But really, wouldn't you want teenage girls quoting you and wanting to be you, long after you're gone?
Coco Chanel is one of my personal style icons and has been for a while. Before you tell me that I'm so cliche and need to pick a better icon, let me tell you that I'm not just picking her to pick her. I actually have read a lot of books on her and I enjoy her overall aura as a person. Here are some attributes of why I love and identify with her.
Parisian. Okay, so she wasn't Parisian, but she was born in France and she died in Paris, so I think that counts! I love this about Coco, because that's where so much fashion happened. France is where Haute Couture lived (Thanks to Charles Worth) and that certainly has a wonderful affect on any designer.I chose this area to do the photo shoot in, because it feels like French countryside, or what I think it would be like! (It's number 5 on my top 10 places to take photos in Dallas list. Read here). I haven't been to Paris yet, but I will make it there one day!
Feminist. Chanel wanted women to feel good about themselves in clothing. It is often said that if a woman is wearing Dior, then a man bought it for her; however, if she is wearing Chanel, she bought it for herself. Much like one of my other favorites, Queen Elizabeth I, Coco Chanel fell in love once or twice, but she never got married. She supported herself and that was reflected in her designs. She said that it wasn't luxury if it wasn't comfortable and took that to heart in her work. Chanel made jersey fabric popular and also didn't care to show off curves of the body, as her counterparts did. One of my favorite trends right now that she would have supported, is the loose look (mom, don't you wish this was popular in my middle school days?! ). For example, Chanel's suits were straight and didn't restrict the body; she truly dressed for herself. I dress for myself, not for guys, so obviously I love this about Chanel. I picked this outfit specifically for this post, because the jumpsuit has aspects of menswear in the lapel. I used a Chanel twist and made it feminine with the pearls. I love androgeny and Chanel helped play a part in this being "cool" for women.
Driven. After WWII, Chanel had no intentions of going back into business. That is, until Christian Dior created his "New Look". She was so appalled by it, that it forced her to open up shop. My mom likes to tell people that I'm competitive and uses an example of musical chairs. At a fall festival event when I was younger, I really wanted to win and I was okay with bumping kids who were smaller than me off of the chair to do so. I like to think that Chanel would have too;) I am extremely driven, so I identify with this trait of hers a lot.
Completer. I know, I know. It's not a word, but I couldn't think of one that fit her otherwise. Coco started a task, finished it, and when she was done, she never wanted to look at it again. This is exactly how I feel when I complete a sewing project and her tasks were a lot bigger than mine, so I can only imagine! Her mindset was essentially "on to the next one", which is a rather good philosophy if you think about it. In life, don't keep living in the past- keep on trucking.
Witty. Chanel was sassy. My favorite quote of hers was something she supposedly said to Paul Poiret, a leading French designer of the early 20th century. As you probably know, Chanel is the reason LBDs (little black dresses) are popular and she traditionally wore black. As this was rather unusual for the time period, unless you were attending a funeral, Poiret asked who she was mourning for, while at a certain party. She promptly told him that she was mourning for him. This is ironic, because Poiret's reign of fashion came to a lull because of Coco, so in a way, she was right!
Timeless. Do you ever look at Chanel and wonder why a simple girl named Gabrielle stood the test of time? Well, she didn't really do trends. She picked looks that work for years and years, which basically secured her spot as an icon. I will participate in some trends, but for the most part, I stay away from them for this very reason. Ever look back at pictures and wonder what the heck you were wearing? I don't think Coco ever had to do that. You should adopt the mantra of WWCD: What would Coco do? She didn't adopt trends, she made them. You can thank her for making the suntan look popular!
So, not only did she cut her hair short and wear whatever she wanted to, regardless of what was "in", but she had a mind that she put great use to as well. I'm not really sure what else you could want in a style icon! Let's overlook the fact that she had too many lovers to number, probably smoked a pack and a half a day, and was allegedly accused of being a double agent with the Nazis. We all have our crazy parts, right? Overall, Coco Chanel was a leader in the fashion world who paved the way for so many others. I want to be her when I grow up!
How do you feel about Coco Chanel? Who are your style icons?
**This post was written with a accumulation of my memories from my Apparel Merchandising courses at Baylor University, as well as the knowledge of several biographical books. If you would like me to recommend one for you to read or look into, contact me here!
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