18 June 2018

15 Interesting Facts About Coco Chanel & Her Designs

A couple of years ago, well, in 2011, really, I was in London for Fashion Week, and I managed to pop into the “Chanel World” exhibition at Harrod’s. I learnt some pretty cool fun facts about Chanel back then, especially about Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel and her inspiration behind her designs, and her incorporation of elements and materials that were previously unheard of, nor attempted by, any designer during her time. Such is the fashion great that she was! So, here we go, and without further ado, here are some 25 Interesting Facts About Coco Chanel and her designs!

Chanel Camellia

House Codes

  • As a very superstitious woman, it is surprising that the number 13, although unlucky for many, was Coco Chanel’s lucky number.
  • The lion’s head or the “Leo” is also significant because that was the year in which she was born, which is why you might’ve seen the lion making an appearance in some of her past collections.
  • The Chanel No.5 perfume was called that because that was the fifth bottle – which she loved the most –  out of the 30 samples she had sniffed at the perfumery
  • Pearls too are a huge part of the Maison. Unlike the women of her time who wore real jewels, Coco was responsible for making it appropriate to wear costume jewellery during social events. Costume jewellery were always chunky, and she always wore and layered her pearl necklaces wherever she went.
  • The Camellia would be a House Code that’s most familiar to all of us. It’s so ingrained into the Chanel DNA that we even get one of these blooms with every of our Chanel purchases. The significance? It was the flower that Boy Capel, the greatest love of her life, had given to her. The flower made its first appearance in 1913, and 25 petals are needed to create this iconic flower.

Chanel Tweed

Ready-to-Wear

  • Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel was the first to use jersey, a material originally used for men’s underwear, as outerwear for her designs.
  • Coco began to incorporate tweed (a material traditionally used in menswear into womenswear) into her creations after realising how comfortable the material felt when she borrowed sportswear from one of her lovers, the Duke of Westminster. She then began working with a Scottish factory in 1924 on creating a type of tweed that is able to retain its suppleness. Today, tweed has become synonymous with Chanel, particularly that of her tweed skirt- and trouser- suits, as well as the jacket; all of which are constructed without shoulder pads.
  • Chanel created 2 pockets on the tweed jacket (one on each side) so that she could put her cigarettes on the left, and her sewing kit on the right pocket
  • Chanel also used chain link details (like those you see on the bag straps) at the bottom of the tweed jackets to weigh the jacket down so that its shape was maintained at all times even when it was being worn
  • Quilting, yet another Chanel signature was first used on the inside of jackets. Along with the chain, the quilting also helped to provide more structure, prevent the jackets from losing its shape – an idea which she borrowed from the jackets stableboys wore at the race tracks. Today, the quilting element may be most familiar to us in the form of her 2.55 and flap bags.
Chanel Harrods Exhibit 2011 Giant Flap Bag
Inside Chanel’s Harrod’s Exhibit in 2011 (The gigantic bag was easily over than 6 ft tall!!)
Photo by Bag Addicts Anonymous

Bags, Bags, BAGS!

  • The chain link straps on Chanel bags were inspired by the rosaries and the chain-like belts that the nuns wore at the orphanage in which she grew up
  • The interior of the Classic flap bags are lined with Burgundy leather to make it easier to retrieve things from the bag – it made things easier to find
  • The zippered pocket (that goes upwards) on the underside of the classic flap bags is called the “love pocket” so that she could carry around (and hide) love letters from her lovers.
  • Most of the charms on Chanel bags were inspired by her lovers. The significance of a turtle charm was because one of her lovers, who was a fisherman, told her that turtles brought good luck (to fishermen) because it indicated that there were fish around the area. This is yet another testament to her superstitious beliefs.
  • The iconic interlocking “C” logo on Chanel bags weren’t part of the original design. It was Karl Lagerfeld who had incorporated it onto the bag, as a tribute to Coco Chanel. The original clasp Coco designed on bags, was the one with the Mademoiselle turnlockwhich we see on the Reissue Flap Bag

 

All images via Chanel unless otherwise stated