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CHANEL Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel was born in Saumur, France in 1884. Vogue Magazine referred to her as "the couturier who takes no account of fashion, who pursues her own faultlessly elegant line in the quiet confidence that fashion will come back to her - and sure enough it always does."

Chanel began designing heavily during the 1920s. Her first outfits were wool jerseys, and were very simple. She became famous for the simple look of her extremely classy outfits. Chanel stayed away from the vivid colors of many of the other designers of the time. Instead, she used blacks, navy, and tan almost exclusively. Unlike many designers who primarily made dresses and suits, Chanel also designed jackets, hats, and costume jewelry. When presenting a show, she did not have to accessorize her models with designs from other houses. Chanel designed well into the 1930s, but was forced to close her house during the years of World War Two. In 1954, she was able to reopen, and she designed until she died in 1971.

Chanel was one of the most influential designers of the twentieth century with a non-conformist and classical streak. Coco designed the definitive women's suit, wore masculine clothes, sported a cropped haircut and flaunted a suntan when it was considered to be an symbol of the working class. In 1916, she outraged the fashion industry by using jersey at a time when it was strictly associated with underwear. Modernity and comfort were the key reasons why the classic Chanel suit -collarless, simply cut, trimmed with braid and with a discreet chain sewn into the hem - has transcended every single movement of the twentieth century. Chanel had a disappointing love life and brittle personality. She criticized other designers such as Elsa Schiaparelli, Christian Dior and Cristobal Balenciaga.

The first Chanel shop was opened in Paris in 1914. When World War Two broke out, the salon on rue Cambon closed and Chanel went into exile. "I have always been copied by others. If a fashion isn't take up and worn by everybody, it's not fashion but an eccentricity, a fancy dress."

After Chanel's death in her apartment at the Ritz hotel in Paris in 1971, first her assistant designers, Gaston Berthelot and Ramon Esparza, and then her assistant Yvonne Dudel and Jean Cazaubon designed the couture from 1975 until 1984. Philippe Guibourge became the ready-to-wear designer. Karl Lagerfeld took



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