Makynzie KeeverMs. LindenburgAmerican History 223 January 2018Coco Chanel Born August 19,1883, Gabbrielle Bonheur Chanel was taught to sew in the orphanage that she was raised in in Saumur, France. Her designs throughout her life changed the way people viewed fashion and style. Her life did not begin luxurious, though. Chanel was put into an orphanage after her mother’s death and was raised by nuns who taught her to sew. She received her nickname of “Coco” after performing in multiple clubs where she was referred to as Coco. When Chanel was 20, she began dating a man name Etienne Balsan, who offered to help her start a business in Paris . Soon, she left him for one of his welthier friends name Arthur “Boy” Chapel. Chanel’s first shop on Paris’s Rue Cambon began by selling hats. As her business grew, she began to open more and more shops in Biarritz and Deauville, which is where she started making her first clothing pieces. Her first notable project was a dress made from an old jersey on a cold day. When people asked where she had purchased such a dress, she told them that she would gladly make one for them as well. Chanel began to sell her first perfume in the 1920s, which launched her career to new heights. Chanel No. 5 was the first perfume to feature a designer’s name. Businessmen Paul and Pierre Wertheimer and department store owner Theophile Bader each negotiated deals with Chanel for the Wertheimer business to be entitled to 70% of all Chanel No. 5 profits in exchange for them producing the perfume, and Bader receiving 20% of profits, leaving Chanel with only 10% profits. She repeatedly sued to have the terms of the deals renegotiated. One of Chanel’s most legendary pieces was introduced in 1925, the Chanel suit with a well-fitted skirt and a collarless jacket. For the time, Chanel’s designs were revolutionary and controversial, as she was taking many ideas from men’s fashion and applying them to womens’, with a huge emphasis on comfort, which opposed women’s fashions during that period such as confining garments and corsets. Another iconic design from Chanel was the little black dress. The color of the dress was once only associated with mourning, and she took the color and turned it into a chic option for evening wear. After gaining much attention from the fashion industry, Chanel was also very popular in Parisian literary and artistic worlds, as she designed costumes for ballets such as the Ballets Russes, and counted Pablo Picasso as one of her friends. She also briefly had a relationship with Igor Stavinsky. Following the outbreak of World War II, Chanel began to close her businesses. She fired her employees and shut down her shops. She also had an affair with a German officer during this time, which she faced criticism from the public and the government for. After her interrogations for the affair, Chanel left Paris to spend time in Switzerland and also Roquebrune for a short time. She returned back to the world of fashion at the age of 70 and received scathing reviews from critics, but the general public swooned over her easy-fitting and feminine designs. Chanel died in her apartment at the Hotel Ritz on January 10, 1971. Having never married, she once said, “I never wanted to weigh more heavily on a man than a bird.” Designer Karl Lagerfeld continued Chanel’s legacy at her company. Today, her company is owned by the Wertheimer family and continues to thrive.