Designer Analysis Coco Chanel
“Fashion changes, but style endures.” This quote from Chanel sums up the
belief of her company and a motto she carried her entire life. Coco Chanel was born in Samur, France on August 19 1883 to the given name of Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel. Though her later years were glamorous her early years were another story. When Coco was six years old her mother passed away leaving her father to care for her and her five siblings (Coco Chanel,n.d.,para 2). Soon after her mothers death Coco’s father took her to and orphanage where nuns raised her. While at the orphanage the nuns taught her how to sew which proved to be a skill she would use later on in life (Coco Chanel, n.d., para 3).
It was while pursuing a career in as a singer Gabrielle acquired the name
Coco. She performed at various clubs in France where she was given the nickname Coco. There are different versions on where the name Coco came from, some say it came from a song she would sing while she was on stage, however, in an interview for The Atlantic Coco said it came from the word cocotte, which in French means “kept woman” (Coco Chanel, n.d. para 3) Chanel had great success from the start of her business until 1939 when France declared war with Germany. It was then she made the tough decision to close the doors to The House of Chanel. At the age of 70, and after 14 years of being out of the business, Chanel re-‐opened her doors and released her come back collection (Heilbrunn Timeline, n.d., para 7-‐8).
Chanel did not start her career designing clothes but hats. Her first millinery
shop opened in 1910 on Rue Cambon. A few years later she opened shops in
Deauville and Biarritz and it is here she began to make a limited collection of clothing (Biography Channel UK, n.d., para 8). Her first big success in the clothing industry came when women saw her walking around in a jersey dress she made for herself. Many women asked where she bought her dress to answer their question she offered to make a dress for them (Coco Chanel, n.d., para 5). This simple act changed the course of design in women’s fashion. This simple design allowed women to dress with out the help of maids, they no longer needed to wear corsets, and this gave them a more comfortable garment to wear.
During her historic fashion career Coco made several innovations in the
industry as well as created many signature looks. Her first big innovation was the use of jersey in her designs. During World War 1 there was a shortage of fabric but wool jersey was readily available. With many of Deuaville inhabitants leaving their wardrobes in Paris, and with more active women roles in the war effort, Chanel’s wool sweaters and camisoles dresses were very popular (“Chanel,Vogue”, n.d.). Another innovation for Chanel was the use of weighted hems in her suit jackets. A small chain would be inserted in to the hem of the suit jacket allowing the jacket to keep its shape while the wearer is moving around. Another signature look is the Chanel tweed. The Chanel suits are automatically known for their fabric. The iconic Chanel tweed was introduced in 1928 and was woven for the House of Chanel in Scotland (“Chanel,Vogue, n.d.). Chanel is also responsible for the creation of the little black dress. Chanel took this color representative of mourning and created a chic evening dress that is still a staple in fashion to this day (Coco Chanel, n.d., para 8). One last innovation I want to talk about was Chanel’s ability to merge the masculine
and feminine in fashion. I already mentioned how she took the fabric for men’s underwear and created garments that every woman of the time wanted. She also broke down the barriers between the two genders. When designing her iconic suits she use men’s tailoring and construction to create the jackets. While there are many more innovations and a signature elements of Chanel’s these are a few of her more famous ones.
To this day the image of Chanel, though it has evolved, is still true to the
original image Coco had for the brand. There have only been two major designers for the brand, Coco and Karl Lagerfeld. While there were five designers between the two Coco and Karl are the most recognizable. During his time at Chanel Karl has stayed true to the look of the brand while doing something new and inventive every season. One of the ways his does this is by using the iconic Chanel tweed. The below pictures are from the 2006 couture show and the 2014 couture show.
Spring 2014 Fall 2006
In a recent article published by the New York Times Suzy Menkes said “His ability to catch a societal shift, while never stepping too far from the heritage of Coco herself, is unique, impressive and exhilarating.“ (Menkes, 2013) When Karl took over the
company in 1983 he reinvigorated the brand and took what was thought to be a dying company and made it great. This is an amazing feat because he did it all while keeping the original feel of Chanel.
Over the course of the years Chanel has broadened their brand to include
more than just hats and clothing, it all started with Chanel No.5. In 1921 Coco worked with Ernest Beaux to create an intoxicating mix of fragrances and together they created Chanel No. 5. Not only was this the first perfume for the brand it was also the first to bare a designers name. (Chanel,Vouge, n.d.) The company has come a long way since the original Chanel No. 5. They now have various women’s fragrances, men’s fragrances, cosmetics, accessories, handbags, and jewelry. All of these items can still be purchased from a Chanel boutique as well as department stores such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Chanel has always had a very loyal customer base but over time the company
has tried to reach out to a larger customer base. In the early 2000’s Chanel hired a consulting firm that specialized in marketing to the under 30 crowd. What was the result? In 2002 Chanel launched a new perfume called Chance with the biggest marketing push in the history of the company (Taipei Times, 2002). With perfume bringing the company the most profit this was the most logical step in reaching a younger audience. Also, this new fragrance could also be a gateway product for the younger generation. They start out owning a Chanel fragrance and when they are able to make purchases on their own they may become a loyal Chanel customer for everything.
When it comes to the Chanel clothing I don’t believe there is a particular age ranger for Chanel. The clothes can be styled to fit just about any age. What I do think plays a role in the age of a customer is price point. It is much easier for someone younger, or someone in the middle class, to purchase Chanel perfume, hence, why it is the most profitable product for the company. It’s takes a more affluent client to purchase other accessories and apparel from Chanel. Typically, when one thinks of this affluent person they tend to be older, wealthy, possibly have a high paying career field. All of these factors give them the ability to purchase these high priced luxury items. Just to give an example of the price range between the two I went to Chanel’s website to compare prices. A customer can buy a 1.7 oz bottle of Chance for $90.00 a price that the middle class would probably be able to afford. When I looked at apparel from the new collection the first dress I clicked on was listed at $9,150. This is a huge price gap between the two products. This same price point is laid out in many of Chanel’s competitors such as Christian Dior. Dior also has a lower priced fragrance followed up with a luxury priced apparel line. After researching for this project my love for Chanel has only grown. Coco Chanel was one of the most influential designers in the fashion industry. I originally picked Chanel because I loved the simple elegance of the brand and I wanted to expand my knowledge on what little I knew about her. Her legacy continues to this day and many designers are still resurrecting her style. For their Spring 2010 collections Tory Burch, Jason Wu, and Donna Karan all tried resurrecting Chanel in someway (La Ferla, 2009). The brand CoCo built will continue to grow for many years there are to many dedicated Chanel fans.
Bibliography: Chanel. (n.d.). - Voguepedia. Retrieved March 17, 2014, from http://www.vogue.com/voguepedia/Chanel Coco Chanel Biography. (n.d.). Bio.com. Retrieved March 15, 2014, from http://www.biography.com/people/coco-chanel-9244165 FASHION. (n.d.). CHANEL. Retrieved March 17, 2014, from http://www.chanel.com Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. (n.d.). Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel (1883â€“1971) and the House of Chanel. Retrieved March 17, 2014, from http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/chnl/hd_chnl.htm Menkes, S. (2013, October 1). At Chanel, Irony Meets Art. The New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/02/fashion/At-Chanel-Lagerfelds-ArtCreation.html TAIPEI TIMES (2002, August 19). Chanel goes after younger clientele . Taipei Time, p. 3. BIOGRAPHY CHANNEL UK. (n.d.). Coco Chanel Biography. Coco Chanel. Retrieved March 16, 2014, from http://www.thebiographychannel.co.uk/biographies/coco-chanel.html Ferla, R. (2009, September 23). The Mother of Reinvention. The New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/24/fashion/24chanel.html
Ferla, R. (2009, September 23). The Mother of Reinvention. The New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/24/fashion/24chanel.html
IN a mock interview with Coco Chanel in the August issue of Harper’s Bazaar, Karl Lagerfeld attempted to channel his muse. Asked “what inspires, you, an architect, an actress?” Chanel, a k a Mr. Lagerfeld, was quick to respond, “An actress, why not?” Why not indeed? If, apart from her work, Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel possessed an overarching talent, it was her gift for selfinvention. In the words of Axel Madsen, one of her many biographers, she “made things up.” The scrappy peasant girl from the Auvergne transformed herself in the public eye from the child of an itinerant peddler to a daughter of privilege brought up by genteel maiden aunts; from a fiercely ambitious courtesan to the social equal of the Duke of Westminster; from a moderately gifted seamstress to a celebrated couturier — and an enduring emblem of what ambition can achieve. “She is the ultimate Gatsby character,” said Rhonda Garelick, a professor of English at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and the author of a forthcoming Chanel biography, “Antigone in Vogue.” Professor Garelick argued in an interview that Chanel represents “a very American rags-to-riches story.” “She is a successful poseur who came from nothing and blasted her way into society and celebrity,” Professor Garelick writes. Chanel improvised as she went, “tapping into desires that are far more than sartorial.” Today many of those desires are mirrored in a spate of films, books and fashions that explore the designer who has been called the first modern woman — if not the first modern celebrity. “As a phenomenon, Chanel shoulders a lot of different narratives,” said
Harold Koda, the curator in charge of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. “Her life has a kind of mythic quality.” Interest in the couturier has never really waned, but 2009 has taken shape as a banner year for all things Chanel. In a recession, the perpetual reinvention of her life — not to mention the stillinfluential designs that in their day elevated humble materials into high style — strikes a chord, making Chanel an inspiring figure for lean times. In “Coco Before Chanel,”‘ a gauzy film biography that opens on Sept. 25 in New York and Los Angeles, the director Anne Fontaine reconstructs Chanel’s early years as a “Pretty Woman” saga. The film follows the onetime music-hall singer as she turns the attentions of well-born lovers like Etienne Balsan and Boy Capel to her advantage, wooing them into financing her career as a designer. The movie is framed to capture a youthful heroine who is gritty and vulnerable. “When you know her better at the beginning of her life, you understand her fragility, her stress,” Ms. Fontaine said. “She never knows what is going to happen next and she has no protection, so she must fight against her destiny and create a new way not just to dress but to be.” That film follows “Coco Chanel,” an Emmy-nominated television miniseries broadcast last year on the Lifetime network, which similarly focused on Chanel’s formative years and her efforts to face down privations and social snubs as she refashioned herself as the imperious couturier (played by a caustic Shirley MacLaine) Nor will filmgoers see the simian features and hard-bitten persona of the aged Chanel in “Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky,” a biopic that closed the Cannes Film Festival this year. Darker, more villainous aspects of the designer’s history are
explored in “Coco Chanel,” (HarperCollins), a biography by Justine Picardie to be published later this fall. Ms. Picardie discusses Chanel’s affair with a Nazi officer during the occupation of Paris, one in a series of morally compromising choices she made to ensure that even in wartime, with her competitors shuttering all around her, her business would continue to thrive. Portrayals of Chanel as a feisty warrior bent on making her way at any cost carry feminist overtones for some. Chanel “seems to be the third-wave feminist heroine of the moment,” said Mallory Young, an author of “Contemporary Women at the Movies” (Routledge, 2007). A protagonist like Chanel combines “the crucial importance of style and fashion in identity and selffashioning, the promotion of femininity and the relationship of style to power,” Ms. Mallory added. Think Lady Gaga. The notion that Chanel is a role model for aspiring divas informs another work, “The Gospel According to Coco Chanel” (Skirt!, 2009), a self-help guide masquerading as an irreverent biography. “My book is not just for people interested in fashion,” said the author, Karen Karbo. “It is more for people who are looking for a philosophy of living — a biography for a selfabsorbed age.” Chanel’s own towering self-regard is legendary. Her life and style have been copiously documented in past works including “Chanel and Her World” (1985) by her friend and biographer, Edmonde Charles-Roux, and the 1969 Broadway musical “Coco,” starring Katharine Hepburn. Her seminal designs — from the little black dresses and “poor boy” jersey pullovers to the braid- trimmed bouclé collarless jackets and schoolgirl sailor blouses inspired by Colette — are routinely resurrected on fashion runways. Last week during the presentation of spring 2010 collections in New York, Tory Burch, Jason Wu and Donna Karan were among those re-adapting Chanel to modern tastes.
The look — slim, easy and devoid of embellishment — conveys a feeling of “youth and hopefulness,’” Professor Garelick suggested. It is also, she added, well adapted to an economic downturn. “It reflects austerity and speaks to great elegance without requiring lavish materials. It is a kind of fashionable way to establish financial restraint.” Chanel’s signature style may well be fundamental to the survival of the designer’s mystique. “If she was just a demimondaine who had a little millinery shop, even though she had wildly notorious affairs we wouldn’t remember her,” said Mr. Koda of the Costume Institute. She owes her presence in the contemporary consciousness to a “very lively if disputable biography, together with the continuing vigor of the brand.” The survival of that brand has served the designer well indeed. Even people who know little about the proud, brittle couturier seem intuitively to grasp the power of the double-C logo, Professor Garelick pointed out. “They know there is some talismanic power in those C’s.” Now, as decades ago, “They confer a sense of limitless possibilities.”
Menkes, S. (2013, October 1). At Chanel, Irony Meets Art. The New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/02/fashion/At-Chanel-Lagerfelds-Art
PARIS — “Chain Scale No. 1” read the art gallery label beside a giant cluster of chains; “Russian Gardenia,” with a red “sold” sticker, was what looked like the drawing of a camellia, and “Falling Pearls” was the title of a framed work that had pearlencrusted double C’s with a heap of fallen baubles on the ground. Karl Lagerfeld’s take on fashion as art at the Chanel show Tuesday was as witty as it was profound. The 75 “artworks” had all been drawn by the designer and turned into a film set, where the audience, including clients and the singer Katy Perry, wandered through a fake art gallery. Before a single garment had appeared — not the tweed suits given a thick new weave to fit with the 21st century ethnic mood, nor the exceptional dresses made out of tiny slivers of color taken off a paint chart — the message was right on the modern world. For who among the audience could resist a “selfie,” taken on a smartphone against images and objects that mimicked brilliantly the Jeff Koons flower vase or the target paintings of Ugo Rondinone. Mr. Lagerfeld is as knowledgeable about modern art as he is about other cultures. His ability to catch a societal shift, while never stepping too far from the heritage of Coco herself, is unique, impressive and exhilarating. “Since the days of Andy Warhol, art became a sort of fashion. People wanted to be part of the art world,” said Mr. Lagerfeld, who seemed to take a sly poke at the “artsy” clothes of fellow designers, while his approach was the opposite.
For against this backdrop of abstract “art” or weird and wonderful installations, the clothes were calm and beautiful as the models (and later the designer) walked the long space. Only the music was violent and wild — the Lagerfeld modernity again — as Jay-Z rapped “Picasso Baby” so loudly that the models’ arty blue- and green-decorated eyes blinked and the chains of the double sets of shoulder bags rattled with vibration. A stunned Riccardo Tisci, the designer of Givenchy, who had been invited because the Jay-Z song refers to him, gasped backstage at the overwhelming energy of the designer. The wonder of this collection was twofold: First, in spite of the set, the “art” did not diminish the clothes; and the collection had artistic elements like complex ruglike knitting, a pink coat that looked like paint-splashed mohair, mixes of lace and mesh, and pants worn with layers of colorful sweaters. Some hemlines dropped to the top of the sock boots that was the Chanel footwear of choice. Variety, color and texture were as bold as the duo of pearls at the neck that could have passed for headphones. There was choice and invention, yet not a single piece looked like it could not be worn for summer 2014. For once, a word so often bandied about in the 21st century was relevant to this KL/Chanel moment: awesome.
TAIPEI TIMES (2002, August 19). Chanel goes after younger clientele . Taipei
Time, p. 3.
Chanel goes after younger clientele Long a favorite brand for older women, the perfume giant decided to hire a consulting company that specializes in marketing to the under-30 crowd A NEW SCENT：
NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK Mon, Aug 19, 2002 - Page 12
For the past 81 years, the Chanel name has carried a special resonance for women 30 and older, who have made Chanel No. 5 the world's leading fragrance. But the younger market has proved elusive for Chanel, a state of affairs it intends to change with the introduction of its latest fragrance appealing to 20-somethings. Chanel's name for the new fragrance -- Chance -- is fitting. To capture the fancy of this fickle young group of women between the ages of 18 and 29, Chanel is giving Chance the biggest marketing push in the company's history -- with an introductory budget estimated at more than US$12 million. Chanel is flinging itself into a market already crowded by competitors' earlier entrants, like Happy by Clinique and CK One from Calvin Klein. Chanel's aggressive plans are self-explanatory, according to industry observers. "Young consumers are the lifeblood of the beauty industry," said Irma Zandl, president of the Zandl Group in New York, a consulting company that specializes in
the under-30 age category. She added that, "A brand not recruiting teens or young adults is just getting old." Over the last six years, Chanel has gradually made inroads into the younger consumer market. In 1996, the company introduced Allure, marketed to women in their late 20s and 30s. Coco Mademoiselle soon followed, and its target market was women 25 and up. "So, it's not something that, you know, we just woke up one day and said `Oh, uh-oh, No. 5 customers are aging, we better go find a younger consumer,'" said Laurie Palma, senior vice president for fragrance and Internet marketing at Chanel Inc. in New York. But neither Allure nor Coco Mademoiselle have made great inroads into the 18 to 34 market, which represents a third of the US$2 billion women's fragrance market. According to a 2001 Women's Fragrance Track Consumer Study by NPD BeautyTrends in Port Washington, New York, which tracks the beauty industry, the leading brands owned and used most often by women 18-to-34 years old include: Happy by Clinique, which had overall sales of US$101 million in 2001; Romance by Ralph Lauren, at US$63 million; Tommy Girl by Tommy Hilfiger, at US$42 million; Victoria's Secret Divine (which is not tracked by NPD, but has annual sales estimated at US$40 million); Lancaster Cool Water Woman at US$30 million; Calvin Klein's Obsession at US$27 million; and CK One at US$20 million. Arie L. Kopelman, president and chief operating officer at Chanel Inc, the US unit of the French couture house Chanel, is confident that Chance will be among the top tier of this group. He predicts that "in the short term," Chance will be "as big as Chanel No. 5." Domestic sales for No. 5 were US$50 million in 2001, putting it in sixth place among all fragrances, according to NPD. Chanel has given Chance a light, fresh, floral scent, which Palma said is meant to convey a youthful, sexy and romantic
attitude. To differentiate it from all other square-shaped Chanel fragrances that are packaged in black and white or beige, the Chance bottle is circular and packaged in pink. The scent, with an entry price point of US$38.50, will be available in domestic department stores later this month and in other countries next spring. The ads, created by an in-house team and photographed by Jean-Paul Goude, also try to differentiate Chance from some of the other successful fragrances geared to 20-somethings. The print ad features a 16-year-old Russian model, Anne Vyalitsyna, dressed in a gown, clinging to the enormous bottle, embracing "her chance." The tag line reads, "The unexpected new Chanel fragrance." "I don't think Chanel in bluejeans would be interesting," Palma said. "That's Tommy or Ralph, which they have already." The television commercial, shot in Venice, Italy, is set to the tune "Taking a Chance on Love" and shows a young couple doing just that. Chance will also have a major Internet program within the Chanel Web site, scented impressions in magazines and extensive sampling efforts, including rollerball mini-bottles in targeted areas like college campuses. "We have tried to make Chance modern and young and do all the things that we needed to do for this generation, but still keep it grounded, rooted in what Chanel is all about." He added, "And you can have your cake and eat it in this situation. They are not mutually exclusive." The marketing effort could turn off some of Chanel's core audience, warned Clive Chajet, a corporate identity and brand consultant. If Chance is for the young, then "all other Chanel fragrances are for older women only. And if you're not using their younger fragrance, then you're old." But, in the end, Zandl said, "It's all about the juice. The
advertising can bring them to the fragrance bar where they're going to test it, but then it's the juice itself is what makes the sale." Published on Taipei Times : http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/worldbiz/archives/2002/08/19/0000 164816 Copyright © 1999-2014 The Taipei Times. All rights reserved.
1908- Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel open first millenary shop. 1913- Opens name sake boutique in Deauville France. 1914- Wool jersey sweaters and camisole dress make first appearance. 1917- Two Pieces Chanel suite is introduced. 1919- Chanel is registered as official couturière 1921- Chanel No. 5 is introduced
History Time Line
Historical Time Line cont. 1933- Camellia motif as we know it is introduced. 1939-House of Chanel closes it’s doors due to war
time. 1954- House of Chanel reopens it’s doors 1971- Coco Chanel passes away in January 1983- Karl Lagerfeld becomes head designer
The Early Years Chanel’s mother died when she was 6 years old
leaving her father to care for her and her 5 siblings. Chanel grew up living in an orphanage where the nuns taught her to sew. The name Coco came her brief stint as a club performer.
Coco’s Rise to Success First millinery shop opens with great success. Shops soon open in Deauville and Biarritz. First apparel success with wool jersey sweater and
chemise dress. 1917 -The two piece Chanel Suit is born. 1926- The little black dress is born
Innovation and Signature Pieces Working with Jersey and an everyday material The weighted hem Merging men and women’s fashion The Chanel Suite The “little black dress” Chanel Tweed
Misc. Information Chanel No. 5 and other Chanel perfumes make the
biggest profit. Karl Lagerfeld became lead designer in 1983 reinventing the brand. The style of Chanel surpasses age barriers. Chanel hired an outside company to help target customers under 30.