Chanel is one of the world's most recognized fashion houses, a brand synonymous with luxury and quality. Since it's founding in 1910, Chanel has continued to honor the spirit of its founder, Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, by constantly putting out designs and fragrances that speak to the modern woman. However, not many people know the finer details of Gabrielle Chanel's life, a life that started in tragedy and ended in isolation. Yet, she became one of the world's most famous designers, dressing everyone from high-class ladies to movie stars. Hopefully, these five facts will give you more of an insight into the world of Chanel
1. Chanel began her career as a milliner.
When Chanel opened her first shop in 1910, she dealt mainly in hats. She did away with the overly decorated hats of the period and introduced a new style that was inspired by menswear and was both chic and elegant. Originally the hats were worn by working girls and then quickly caught on with the upper class, prompting her to open a second boutique in Biarritz.
2. Her lucky number was 5.
Gabrielle was highly superstitious and took great measures to always be in tune with the universe. She believed her lucky number to be 5 and tried to incorporate it into all of her work, hoping that it would bring good fortune to her. One of the most famous examples of this is Chanel No.5, her most famous fragrance (and a favorite of Marilyn Monroe). The name is quite literal as it was the fifth sample she had chosen out of 24 samples prepared by Ernest Beaux. After being asked why she selected the fifth vial, Chanel said, "I present my dress collections on the fifth of May, the fifth month of the year and so we will let this sample number five keep the name it has already, it will bring good luck.":60–61
3. She designed costumes for Hollywood films.
By the 1930s, Chanel had become a household name and everyone was clamoring to wear her innovative designs. Hollywood had caught wind of Chanel's popularity, and Samuel Goldwyn of MGM brought her to Tinsel Town to design costumes for his films. She only designed for two films and left Hollywood for good, totally appalled by it's veneer. She said that Hollywood and its luxuries were like "an evening at the Folies Bergère, Once it is agreed that the girls were beautiful in their feathers there is not much to add."
4. Her father abandoned her at an orphanage.
At the age of 12, after the death of her mother, Gabrielle was dumped at the abbey of Aubazine as an orphan and was raised by the nuns who ran it. There, Gabrielle learned how to sew and became transfixed by the black and white of their robes and the holy objects used by the nuns in religious ceremonies. Because of her rough beginnings, Chanel often told people that her father had gone to America to create his fortune and would soon return.
5. Chanel designed her own tombstone.
In 1971, at the age of 87, Gabrielle Chanel died one Sunday morning (the only day she didn't work) at the Hotel Ritz in Paris. At her funeral, the first row of mourners was filled by her house's models (wearing Chanel, of course) and other fashion luminaries, such as Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Balmain, were in attendance as well. Chanel had designed her own tombstone which was accented with the image of the lion for her star sign, Leo. Of her burial arrangements, Chanel said: "Without stone above me, I would like to leave if I had the wish to go to Heaven and dress the angels"