Let’s begin with Chanel’s slogan, “To be irreplaceable, one must be different.” It’s no wonder that even half a century after the passing of the founder of the House of Chanel, this powerhouse keeps getting better and better. Chanel is a timeless brand for its commitment to producing “one of a kind” fashion pieces. On the other hand, the fashion world recognizes the brand’s founder Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, better known as Coco, as a fashion icon.
Chanel’s logo— the interlocking Cs is hard to confuse. The logo is a popular scene in the fashion world, and we have all craved something from the brand. So, has Chanel always been a lust-worthy label? How did a small-time girl with a controversial past become an influential name in the fashion realm? What can we learn from the House of Chanel? These are just some of the questions we seek to answer in this blog. Dive in!
- A Brief History of the House of Chanel
- Invaluable Business Lessons Learnt From the House of Chanel Founder—‘Coco.’
A Brief History of the House of Chanel
If we were to describe fashion pieces from Chanel, we’d say they are a penetrating, timeless, surrounding, and binding force in the fashion spectrum. From lavish red carpet designs to comfortable casual wear, pieces from the brand make fashion statements that signify class, elegance, and luxury. The brand has earned a solid reputation by releasing one in-vogue line after another.
Some of the products from the House of Chanel include:
- Haute couture
- Fine and high-end jewelry
- Skincare products
Here are a few things to note about the history of the house of Chanel:
About The Founder—Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel
Coco had lost her mother by the time she was 12 and was immediately put in an orphanage by her father. She grew up in a convent where nuns raised her and turned her into a seamstress. Her dark past shaped her destiny. In sewing, Coco found her passion and used it to make a legacy.
House of Chanel; The First Shop
In 1910, Miss Chanel Coco opened a shop in Paris and sold hats. While she never married, she received money from her lovers and used it to fund her business and build a fashion empire. It was not long before she opened more stores in Biarritz and Deauville, where she made and sold clothes. Coco transformed black from a color exclusively used for mourning into a staple in women’s daily wardrobes. She created the revolutionary little black dress, which remains a staple in women’s closets to date.
Where the Tides Changed
Experiential Branding in Fashion
Experiential Branding in Fashion
It was after opening her shop in Deauville that Coco found her fortune. The town was chilly, and one day, Coco designed a dress out of an old jersey to keep herself warm. Her dress design was perfect for outdoorsy women, and it made statements of style and comfort—something only men enjoyed at the time. It caught the attention of many, and when they asked where she bought it, Coco offered to make the dress for them.
The house of Chanel introduced the Chanel suit in 1925. The well-fitted skirt and collarless jacket revolutionized the fashion landscape because of its elements of menswear and masculinity. This moved the world to a time when women moved from confining and uncomfortable corsets and chose clothing that favored functionality over flamboyance. According to Coco Chanel, “luxury must be comfortable.”
Looking good and smelling nice go hand in hand. In the 1920s, Coco chose to take her venture to another level by creating the first perfume from the powerhouse— Chanel №5.
House of Chanel; Time to Leave
Between 1939 and 1945, Coco met her childhood sweetheart Hans Gunther von Dincklage. They sparked a love affair, although the relationship raised eyebrows. Von Dincklage was a Nazi officer forcing the authorities to interrogate Coco after the war. She did not face charges for being a Nazi collaborator, although the court of public opinion told a different narrative of the love affair. She had to leave the country and move to Switzerland shortly after. To some, Coco was a love-struck woman in a relationship with the wrong man. To others, she was just a girl desperate to survive the war. Unfortunately, others saw betrayal in her choice to love a Nazi collaborator.
Coco closed her business because of World War II. At age 71, she made a comeback to support Chanel №5 sales and stop emerging brands like Balmain and Dior from undoing her work by creating fashion pieces that brought back traditional feminity.
Unfortunately, Coco was not received well by the French press, who refused to promote her collection. Women still enjoyed wearing her fashion pieces, and some of her designs are still popular to date. In her own words, Coco said,” I do not do fashion; I am fashion.” The fashion world gives her credit for inventing the sportswear concept, an iconic scent— Chanel №5, and most notably, the little black dress.
Invaluable Business Lessons Learnt From the House of Chanel Founder—‘Coco.’
From the history of the House of Chanel, it’s easy to see how Coco transformed women’s fashion and the role of women within society. This icon brought a new definition to beauty, grace, and femininity with unrivaled boldness.
Here are the top 6 entrepreneurial lessons from Coco:
Only Your Opinion Matters
Coco was from humble beginnings. However, this did not stop her from making a fashion empire from the ground and making a multi-million dollar fortune. While her idea of fashion raised eyebrows by bringing something new, the doubts of others did not stop her. Today, we celebrate Coco for inventing the little black dress during an era where full, impractical skirts and corset dresses reigned.
Defining your path doesn’t necessarily mean you should press on when you should call it quits. While Coco worked tirelessly to achieve the things she wanted, she knew when to throw in the towel. When word spread about her possible collaboration with the Nazis, she didn’t waste her time hitting the wall, hoping it would turn into a door. This is even though she gave up marriage life to fire up her career.
Only You Can Create the Life You Desire
Coco’s life when she was growing up didn’t please her. Her father was a peddler, and he sent her to an orphanage as soon as her mum passed on. When she came of age, she changed her doom and gloom story and built a highly successful business from scratch. In essence, she never allowed her past to determine her future.
House of Chanel; Make Choices for Today and the Future
When creating Chanel №5, Coco partnered with Pierre Wertheimer (also rumored to be her lover). While the fragrance was a great success right from the start, it remains one of the most famous perfumes worldwide. Unfortunately, the partnership with Wertheimer left Coco holding the short end of the stick. She only took home 10% of the profits while Pierre Wertheimer pocketed 70% of the profits.
Time and again, the House of Chanel has sued the Wertheimers. They aim to get a chance to renegotiate the terms of the initial agreement. This has not borne much fruit, and the Wertheimers are still enjoying a wider profit margin to date. We learn never to sign a deal whose terms may not suits us in the long run.
Be Different, Be Unfashionable —Take Risks
One of the biggest life lessons we can learn from the founder of the House of Chanel is that we must dare to be different. Experimenting means everything. Coco experimented and invented the little black dress in an era where women in short, comfortable dresses received peculiar stares. Her fashion line was among the first to push women out of their traditional constrictive clothing.
People make fashion. The only way to do this is to create something new and present a design that is “unfashionable.” Success favors the bold. You never know; people may just fall in love with your unique style of thinking. Generally, you cannot make a legacy by trying to fit in.
House of Chanel; Build Brand Curiosity
At first, Coco made unique clothing designs and gave them out for free. She also wore her “unfashionable” designs with grace to create a desire for uniqueness. In a few years, women from all over Paris and Europe knew her name and fancied her designs. A century down the line, the house of Chanel enjoys the dizzy heights of international popularity.
Right from the beginning, Coco had a vision of what modern women represent. They are bold, confident, independent, rebellious, and provocative. While she made her first noteworthy design using an old, cheap jersey material, Coco used what she had to make people interested in what she had to offer.
Confidence Lures Success
In her own words, Coco said, “a girl is no one until she knows who she is and what she wants.” One thing that made Coco a force to reckon with is her acceptance of who she was and what she wanted. While her circumstances were unfavorable, she had a hunger to create her path irrespective of the obstacles along the way.
Following the mainstream path can earn you a living. However, icons are born when people don’t shy away from showing their inner eccentricity. Some of the timeless OG fashion pieces from the brand were in absolute contrast with what was considered fashionable at the time.
Find Your Passion
Building a legacy doesn’t just happen by accident. First, you must find what makes your heart tick. Secondly, you must strive to stand out by daring to be different. The things you are passionate about will create a hunger that only excellence can feed. The House of Chanel is today a powerhouse because Coco disliked her childhood and wanted to reinvent herself into something she liked.