When Gabrielle "Coco" Bonheur Chanel died on 10th January 1971, she was mourned all over the world. Even today, 50 years after her death, she remains a role model for many women for her charm and lifestyle. With her are associated Chanel No. 5 perfume, the "little black" dress, a Chanel costume, a world-famous 2.55 handbag or a "page" hairstyle. Time magazine ranked her among the hundred most prominent personalities of the last century.
Thanks to her romances with influential men, the poor talented tailor quickly developed into the most prestigious designer. In the hitherto purely male business, she founded the fashion empire and the most luxurious brand in the world.
She loved functionality, simplicity, elegance and practicality. She promoted a slim silhouette, hair with a shorter chic cut and practical sporty-elegant styling. She caused a huge stir in the fashion world. It brought unprecedented novelties with androgenic elements. She did away with corsets, launched a collection of knee-length dresses known as "little blacks" and dressed women in trousers and a navy T-shirt. She used fabrics like jersey and knitwear until then reserved for underwear.
The world of perfumes and jewellers
In 1920, she expanded the brand into a shop selling cosmetics and perfumes underlining femininity. Together with Ernest Beaux, she created lavish perfumes, especially the world-famous "Chanel N ° 5" with an iconic bottle in the shape of a bottle of Russian vodka. She was inspired to make this shape by her then partner, a cousin of the Russian tsar, Grand Duke Dmitry Romanov. She later joined forces with brothers Pierre and Paul Wertheimer, whose descendants produce Chanel perfumes to this day. In addition to perfumes, she also designed jewellery. Based on the order of the International Diamond Guild, she has created for her models a collection of diamond jewellery set "Haute Joaillerie" in luxury platinum.
Surrounded by personalities
Coco, nicknamed after one of the songs she sang when she made a living as a cabaret singer after school, returned to France after many years in Swiss exile. She created her most famous pieces - the "Chanel" costume and one of the most conical handbags of all time, known as 2.55, only after returning to Paris. A short, collarless jacket lined with a decorative port, a knee-length skirt and the handbag are still popular pieces in a modern woman's wardrobe.
All her life she was surrounded by artists and important personalities. Her friends included Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso, Salvator Dalí, Dmitry Romanov, the Duke of Westminster Hugh Grosvenor and Winston Churchill. She dressed familiar faces like Audrey Hepburn, later Monaco Princess Grace Kelly and Romy Schneider, or the first lady of the United States, Jackie Kennedy. Even the most legendary pink costume in history that Jackie wore on the day of the assassination of John F. Kennedy was from her workshop.
Lacking recognition by part of the French public, but loved by America, she died in her Ritz Hotel suite in Paris. Her troubled fate is mapped out in five biographical films. One of them from 2009 with Audrey Tautou in the lead role, which won a César for the best costumes.
Staying fit and yet eating chocolate
Thousands of women were fascinated not only by the fashion trends she set, but also by the perfect look and great figure. According to Coco, women do not have to starve themselves and exercise for hours. All you need is a healthy diet and enough exercise. Her routine was a 10 to 12 km walk. When she returned, she had a sweet croissant with dark chocolate, double espresso, and a cup of green tea. She simply knew how to indulge in sweets. She had a spot of a regular at table no. 45 in Angelina, a stylish Parisian patisserie by Anton Rumpelmayer, a native of Bratislava, on Rue de Rivoli, where they served (and still serve) the chocolat l'africain.