Coco Chanel once said, "Fashion passes, style remains."
With her dark bobbed hair, rouged red lips, and blunt attitude, Coco left a legacy that revolutionized the world of fashion. Defying the norm with constant innovations, she embraced the new with her sharp comebacks without losing her signature blend of luxury and restraint. From her elegant monochromatic ensembles to her decadent strings of pearls, almost everything about her is still referenced. As we celebrate what would have been her 131st birthday, we remember the legend that gave us the timeless little black dress, the 2.55 bag, and of course the famed Chanel No. 5 perfume.
Coco was born in Saumur, France, on the 19th of August, 1883, under the sign of Leo, to parents of a modest background.
Coco opens her first shop at 21 Rue Cambon in Paris, creating hats under the name Chanel Modes. Her simple, elegant style of dressing creates a sensation, and is soon imitated by all of Paris.
Coco opens a new boutique in Deauville, France, and introduces a collection of sportswear.
Her first couture house in Biarritz, France, opens.
Coco opens her couture house at 31 Rue Cambon in Paris.
The iconic Chanel N°5 is unveiled. Created by Ernest Beaux, former perfumer to the stars, the fragrance is so called because it was the fifth scent presented to Mademoiselle Chanel.
“A woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future.”
Chanel presents its first makeup collection, featuring lip colors and face powders. Also, the Société Des Parfums Chanel is founded and is dedicated to creating unique fragrances and beauty products.
"It's best to be as pretty as possible for destiny."
Chanel launches Bois Des Iles. Inspired by a vision of exotic lands, with notes of ylang-ylang and sandalwood, this woody scent is one of the first oriental fragrances to be created for women.
At the personal request of Samuel Goldwyn, Coco goes to Hollywood to create outfits for the leading stars of the silver screen.
Chanel presents Bijoux De Diamants, a dazzling exhibition of fine jewelry, staged in honor of the diamond in her private residence in Paris.
“I have chosen the diamond; it is because it represents, in its destiny, the greatest value in the smallest volume.”
At the height of her fame, Coco employs 4,000 workers and owns five boutiques on Rue Cambon in Paris.
World War II breaks out, compelling closures at the House of Chanel. Among the five boutiques on Rue Cambon, only one remains open: the store at number 31, where perfumes and accessories continue to be in high demand among Parisians and American soldiers alike.
At the age of 71, Coco stages the grand re-opening of her couture house. Tired of the fashions of the time, she inspires a second fashion revolution with her original creations. The famed tweed jacket is born.
"Scheherazade is easy; a little black dress is difficult."
In February of 1955, Chanel launches the iconic 2.55 quilted handbag, naming the style after the date of its creation. Combining leather with a gold chain, th label invents a supple new style of shoulder strap that is uniquely strong and light, and that allows a woman's hands to remain free.
Chanel releases Pour Monsieur, the only men’s fragrance to be produced in mademoiselle’s lifetime, created by Henri Robert.
The two-tone slingback shoe is conceived in beige with a contrasting black toe cap.
The fascination grows, as the most celebrated stars of the time–Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Fonda, Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly and Jeanne Moreau–wear the latest fashions from Chanel.
“Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress.”
Chanel introduces N°19, naming the new fragrance after Coco's date of birth. Made by master perfumer Henri Robert, the assertive floral scent is infused with iris and inflected with a rich blend of green and wood notes.
Mademoiselle Chanel dies on January 10th.
Chanel expands with the introduction of its first ready-to-wear collection and the worldwide distribution of its line of iconic accessories.
Following in the footsteps of Ernest Beaux and Henri Robert, famed perfumer Jacques Polge is named master perfumer of Chanel.
Karl Lagerfeld is appointed artistic director for Chanel fashion, designer of all haute couture, ready-to-wear, and accessory collections.
The first line of Chanel watches is launched with the creation of the première watch, designed by Jacques Helleu. The dial of the watch recalls both the shape of the Place Vendôme and the stopper of the iconic N°5 bottle.
The first Chanel fine jewelry collection is launched in the heart of the Place Vendôme in Paris. In 1997, Chanel establishes 18 Place Vendôme as the home of Chanel Fine Jewelry.
Chanel launches Coco Mademoiselle, a scent inspired by the spirit of Mademoiselle Chanel.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York honors Chanel with a grand exhibition.
Chanel celebrates the iconic jacket with the launch of the book and photo exhibition, titled “The Little Black Jacket: Chanel's Classic Revisited by Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld.”