Friday, 29 August 2014

Coco Chanel... The Fashion Legacy.

Chanel emerged post WW1 and her style could not have suited a better time. She understood the changing need for women desiring clothes that were built for comfort and favoured simplicity and practicality. Despite the drastic change from restrictive corsets and the need for women to be all curves, her designs were a huge hit. Female elegance no longer came from how small a waist you had or how many frills you had on your dress, it came from being understated.

The Chanel Suit
Picturing Coco Chanel in your head and an image of a small lady in a string of pearls and a smart skirt immediately emerges. The Chanel suit was an innovative design that allowed the wearer to take on the world but still be subtly glamorous at the same time. The idea behind the suit was that it was built for practicality. No stiff shoulder pads or tight material, finally women were dressing to be able to do things rather than just for show.

Despite having been designed in 1930, this has stood the test of time. Not only was it a dress that could be worn by women of all tastes, it was a look for all budgets. Again, there was no unnecessary frills or beading, it was a simple black dress that flattered women's shape but upheld their dignity. High necked and low hemline, as you can imagine, it received criticism from men who preferred their women spilling out of corsets. But, with women it was a hit especially in the post war depression where simple, cheap designs were in desperate need.

Always one admirably in touch with society Chanel believed; "It's disgusting to walk around with millions around the neck because one happens to be rich. I only like fake jewellery … because it's provocative." She not only wanted to make a statement against society with her views but with her designs. She was the epitome of liberating women's fashion. With jewellery, she drew inspiration from Egypt and felt jewels should either be fine or costume. Often seen in her string of pearls, costume jewellery allowed women of all budgets to be on trend and create an expensive look.

Chanel No.5
And of course, not forgetting the biggest fashion statement; perfume. Keeping with her theme of the understated design, the bottle of her perfume was a simple glass bottle. It was this that makes her perfumes so desirable, there is something so attractive about its' simplicity. Chanel had strong associations with the number five and it is such that created the iconic name; Chanel No.5. Marilyn Monroe reignited the excitement about the product by creating the glamorous image and unforgettable quote; "What do I wear to bed? Why, Chanel No.5 of course!" Ever since, it has been a product that women every where associate with the wealthy and classy lady.

Words by Charlotte Hobbs