The founder and namesake of the Chanel brand, she was credited in the post-World War I era with liberating women from the constraints of the “corseted silhouette” and popularizing a sporty, casual chic as the feminine standard of style.
Chanel was raised in an orphanage and taught to sew. She had a brief career as a singer before opening her first clothes shop in 1910. In the 1920s, she launched her first perfume and eventually introduced the Chanel suit and the little black dress, with an emphasis on making clothes that were more comfortable for women.
She never married, having once said “I never wanted to weigh more heavily on a man than a bird.” In 1969, Chanel’s fascinating life story became the basis for the Broadway musical Coco, starring Katharine Hepburn as the legendary designer.