Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Special Homage: Coco Chanel

Today would have been Coco Chanel's birthday, had she been around and withstanding the scrutiny for her infamous past. No matter what anyone has to say about the lady herself and her tumultous personal life, her enduring style has really changed the way we see fashion and how women dress themselves. That's you see the advantage of avant-garde; making history.


Chanel's characteristic use of jersey fabric, pants for women, that do not resemble the harem, the trademark quilted handbags, two-toned pumps, pearls and costume jewelry, the freedom of fluidity & movement in her jackets, the stark usefulness of neutral colors such as beige, white, black and navy and her philosophy of function vs. decoration have made Chanel an icon of the 20th century and a true liberator of women from the constrictive garments of La Belle Epoque. We owe her that much.

Her fragrances of course couldn't but follow her unerring sense of style. The famous Chanel no.5 was followed by many others, notably No.19 commemorating her birthday on August 19th. This is what I am wearing myself today, reveling in both its sharp galbanum and vetiver cutting through the humidity (thick like it could be cut with a knife) and luxurious enough with its orris background.

So in her own honor, please find some related articles of mine on her style, beauty advice, iconography and of course perfumes.
And please share your own experiences with Chanel beauty & perfumes in the comments!

Coco by Chanel: fragrance review

Chanel No.19 & Heure Exquise: Twin Peaks

On Classifying Chanel No.19 & perfume review 

What's the True Story of Chanel No.5?

Cultural history: Exposition Chanel

Chanel No.5 Through the Years

Chanel No.46: fragrance review & history

I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire: Imaginative Fantasies

Chanel Les Exclusifs Misia: fragrance review [And a collective Chanel Les Exclusifs link.]


  1. I think I'll just wear N° 19 as well and pretend Coco was a lovely lady that never had anything Nazi to do.

  2. Anonymous22:06

    I'm wearing No.5 parfum today.

    Coco Chanel is France, the most influential French woman of all times. All over the world, people overwhelmingly name Chanel #1 French brand of them all Chanel stands for universal timeless standards and vision of femininity.

    I've had enough of those fabricated and exaggerated Nazi controversies emanating from a certain self-righteous community. Coco Chanel did what she did to save her business, just like a lot of people did, they take advantage of loopholes and opportunities, this isn't new. I would have done exactly the same. It was about business and connections, not antisemitism.

    Elena, I received your beautiful gift, this smells great! Please send me an email.


    1. Anonymous20:07

      hopefully you will defend the great Galliano ...

  3. Anonymous03:21

    The Justine Picardie book detailed the relationship between Chanel and the Weirthrymers (sp?). A life long fractious relationship. But at the end, guess who was there for her? M. Weirthrymer. He must have been an incredible man.
    My favourite perfume store also carries Chanel fragrances and cosmetics. They go to a lot of trouble to make a special day for their customers. So today I bought a few pieces from the fall collection. The new nail polishes are just smashing! And I wore 19 Poudre today-i wanted the coolness of Iris, and the elegance of Chanel.
    To thank the women in our office I was instructed to buy a whole lot of Chanel-so everyone received the hand cream, no 5 bubble bath, either the body cream or body milk, and various other treats. They loved it!
    Best wishes for a happy day for you lovely people of Greece,

  4. Elena: Thank you for your fabulous blog. And for reminding us of the Amazing Artist/ Designer Chanel today! As a teenager, I thought Chanel perfume adverts in the magazines were sophistication incarnate, esp. Catherine Deneuve. No. 5 was my first ever perfume and I still wear it. I am not a biography fan, yet I have read 3 biographies of Chanel and traveled as far as necessary to see movies about her. "Coco" came out when I was a young professional and I still love it. She is part of our dreams of fashion and beauty and style, below conscious thought for the younger women who have not studied history yet.. A fan from Chicago-

  5. Miss Heliotrope07:58

    It is always fascinating how one person changed so much that we dont even think of what she did as unusual - we just live in a post-Chanel world. The way we view clothes, the presentation on person, and so on flipped totally due to Chanel's influence.

    & while from modern Australia, any involvement with Nazis & their occupation of France is horrifying, I can't help wondering how many male business people were as compromised, let alone politicians, and yet most of the focus - as directly after the liberation of France - is on women. A seller of frivolities is a lot easier to boycott & attack than those whose industry or connections are more important.

  6. Nan used to wear Number 5, saying she was allergic to everything else.... I also wear Number 5, although my principal love is Guerlain. My mother prefers Number 19. And Best Beloved and I bought my mother-in-law her first bottle of Chanel .... Number 5 of course!

  7. She made wonderful clothes and fragrances, she made a lot of money doing that, and she made a pact with the Devil to do so while others did not. How quickly we forget and then make excuses for her collaboration with the Nazis. If it was just about "business,"tell that to the ones who had moral character and did not pander and fawn at the feet of their Nazi occupiers. What "self righteous community" fabricates and exaggerates Nazi controversies? The Resistance in France might address that remark, as well as many other countries in Europe.

    1. Anonymous20:07

      Gabrielle Chanel had many lovers, she used them all. She was manipulative with men and an opportunist, who was a highly talented fashion designer and visionnaire nonetheless. She was Winston Churchill's confidante, you would think he would have known better! Her lack of judgment comes from her fear of socialism, which was pretty common back then in Western Europe amongst high society including British royals, but not hardcore antisemitism.


    2. Anonymous20:09

      vive la resistance'

  8. Thank you so much. One of my first perfumes (given to me by my aunt) was Chanel No.5. I considered this a token of some sort of unspoken rite of passage. I was 14 and this beautiful scent made me realize I was becoming a woman. I thought Chanel No. 5 was beautiful in a muffled, cloudy way.It had a softness, to me.
    In the 1980s I bought myself the original version of Coco and wore it for a number of years. I wonder what Chanel would have thought of my tight black outfits, spiked heels and shocking pink lipstick along with that layered, laquered, sprayed out to there hairstyle. Coco seemed more my style. I loved it!
    In honour of her birthday I shall read your pieces on Chanel No. 5 and Coco! And probably all the others! Thank you so much for all that you do.

  9. I do love her Coco Rouge lipsticks but then ..... she was not around to do them.
    Still ...... her history is not something to admire . I remember my grandmother telling me that after the war many people cut the hair of collaborators ( especially the women )when they came back to Paris so I have an uneasy feeling for Ms Chanel but I have to say - she changed fashion! More than Dior or any others you can think of !

    Helg ..... I do think of this many times when I am on Youtube ....... I wonder what Madame Chanel would REALLY think of all those women and men doing the "Un-Boxing" of Chanel bags etc that we see there today ???
    I sort of think she would be horrified as its just so "Unclassy" !!! LOL

  10. her influence definitely cannot be discounted. i find her very interesting; i think she was really a rather tough person although she presented herself quite differently.

    chanel fashion rarely appeals to me, as it's simply not my style. i like some of the perfumes, though. i wear #19 occasionally, and i always keep the original "coco" on hand. i think it is one of the more under-rated perfumes of the recent decades.


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