19 Things You Should Know About Coco Chanel

by Sydney Sadick

Today marks iconic fashion designer Coco Chanel’s August 19th birthday. To celebrate the woman who quite literally changed the way women dress and think about fashion, we rounded up 19 of the most interesting facts that you should know about the Parisian grande dame. Voila!

  1. She began her career designing hats: they were considered to be revolutionary in Paris.
  2. Coco isn’t her real first name: her birth-name was Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel.
  3. Her favorite number was five: thus the name of her famous scent Chanel No. 5.
  4. She had a thing for pockets: they’re all over her clothes and accessories.
  5. She made suntans cool: after returning from a vacation in Cannes with a sunburn, being pale was no longer à la mode.
  6. She came from a poor background: her mom was a laundrywoman and she was deserted by her father.
  7. She was one of the first designers to use celebrities in ads: she took photographs of celebrities of her era wearing her creations.
  8. She lived in a hotel for over 30 years: the Ritz Hotel was where the designer spent 37 years until her death in ’71.
  9. She made a LBD chic: her first short black dress was published in American Vogue.
  10. Chanel N0. 5 is one of the world’s best-selling scents: so much so that it has been estimated that someone buys a bottle of it every 30 seconds.
  11. Nuns taught Chanel everything she knows: the nuns who ran Aubazine Abbey, the orphanage she grew up in, taught her to sew.
  12. She was a singer: before designing, she sang at La Rotunde and other Parisian cafes.
  13. World War II killed Chanel’s operations: the war affected her business in 1939, when she closed up shop. Clearly, she made a comeback.
  14. She was thought to be a spy: during the war she was linked to German intelligence officer Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage, who was also a spy.
  15. She never married: but she did have a few prominent lovers, including Etienne Balsan, a French socialite and polo player.
  16. She caught the attention of Hollywood producers: Samuel Goldwyn offered her a contract to come to California twice a week to design costumes for the film Tonight or Never.
  17. She created her first famous tweed jacket suit in 1954: Karl Lagerfeld still honors the vision today.
  18. She introduced jersey fabric: it had previously only been used for men’s undergarments.
  19. She died at the age of 88: she was born 132 years ago today.

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