Born in 1883 in France as Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel. The family was poor and when Coco was twelve her mother died and the father left. She lived in an orphanage until she was eighteen. She wanted to a cabaret singer but she had a hard time finding a steady job. She worked in a tailoring shop and became the mistress to French textile heir Étienne Balsan. By some Coco Chanel is considered to be one of the last courtesans. Balsan gave her dresses and jewelry. Chanel became involved with a friend of Balsan's, Captain Arthur Edward Capel who financed her first shops. She became very successful and made an unprecedented impact.
With the outbreak of World War II Coco Chanel closed down her fashion house because she believed it was not the time for fashion. She was heaily criticized for having an affair with a German officer. In 1945 she moved to Switzerland but returned to Paris in 1954 and launched a new collection. It was not received well by the French who did not forget her involvement with the Nazis bur it was liked by the Americans and the English. She died at the Hotel Ritz in 1971.
Coco Chanel introduced masculine feautures into ladies' fashion and made it more comfortable than it had been before. The Chanel suit is a must have among many women, especially if it's vintage. The little black dress should be in every woman's closet but it doesn't have to be Chanel. Trousers for women, strings of pearls and the Gardenia are other features of the Chanel Legacy. The biggest of them all is the perfume, Chanel no 5, which became especially immortilized when Marilyn Monroe said that the only thing she wore to bed was two drops of the perfume.