Being that the iconic Chanel No. 5 perfume just celebrated its 100th anniversary earlier this year, we thought it’d be fitting for this month’s blog to be a fashion history lesson, where we’ll be diving into the glamorous world of the iconic House of Chanel.
The founder and dreamer of the Chanel name was Gabrielle Chanel, later to be referred to as the famous “Coco” Chanel. Coco opened her first storefront in 1910 at 21 rue Cambon, Paris, France, where she exclusively sold her hats. Coco’s hats were well-loved by many notable French actresses of the era, and this worked in her favor as her esteemed reputation began to grow.
An Innovator From the Start
Only three years after her first storefront opening, Coco opened up her first Chanel Boutique in Deauville. At this location, she sold a sportswear line made of jersey, a fabric that was previously used exclusively for men’s underwear. This was the first instance in which Coco’s revolutionary vision began to transform the fashion landscape. This line was also disruptive towards women’s relationships with their bodies as they began to quite literally be stripped of the things that constrained their bodies such as corsets and hoop skirts. A sporty, casual chic became the new norm for women all thanks to the pioneer Coco Chanel.
Encouraged by the success of her first store-front, Coco then opened the first Chanel Couture House in Biarritz where she employed over 300 people to help her bring to life her first Haute Couture collection. What started as a clothing couture house quickly branched out into a house composed of many genres of products – perfumes in particular would begin to take center stage in the House of Chanel in the 1920s.
A Decade of Perfumes
A “women’s perfume which smells like a woman” is how Coco referred to her revolutionary Chanel No. 5 perfume when it debuted in 1921. Revolutionary due to its name, composition and presentation, the Chanel No. 5 perfume was born by an ingenious collaboration between Coco Chanel and perfumer Ernest Beaux.
Following only one year later was the launch of Chanel No. 22 Perfume, which earned its name in reference to the year of its creation. Inspired by the same revolutionary spirit of Chanel No. 5, Chanel No.22 is a delicate yet seductive scent meant to empower the women who possessed it.
Then come 1925, Chanel releases its Gardenia perfume – once again a product of a collaboration with Ernest Beaux
These scents all remain iconic staples of the Chanel line, speaking to the longevity and impeccable quality of Chanel products.
Hollywood & Celebrities Love Chanel
It’s the 1930s by the time Chanel is asked to come to Hollywood, per the request of American producer Samuel Goldwyn, to dress the actresses of the United Artists Studio. This was a significant move for the Chanel name as she quickly began gaining notoriety in the U.S. In addition to dressing the stars, Chanel’s perfumes also became popular, with one major starlit in particular… Jumping ahead to the 1950s Marilyn Monroe becomes something like an unofficial spokeswoman for Chanel No. 5 Perfume. In a feature with Life Magazine in 1952, when asked what she wears to bed, Marilyn simply says, “So I said I only wear Chanel No. 5”. Three years later this statement still follows Marilyn and the Chanel name and Marilyn is photographed by Ed Feingersh in a series of portraits in which she is spraying herself with N°5.
After Marilyn, many Hollywood stars come to love the Chanel name. Prominent women of the era such as Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Fonda, Jackie Kennedy, Romy Schneider, Jeanne Moreau and others are dressed in Chanel.
An Iconic Decade
The 1950s was a busy decade for the House of Chanel – in addition to becoming a prominent household name in America, Chanel was coming out with their most famous innovations left and right.
In 1955 the 2.55 handbag was launched which is the iconic quilted handbag with the gold chain. In 1955, the House of Chanel continued to be innovators in the luxury fashion sphere and launched Pour Monsieur Fragrance – the first men’s fragrance. Then shortly after in 1956 the archetypal trimmed tweed suit was introduced in her Fall/Winter collection.
Lastly, but certainly not the least of the distinctive Chanel items introduced in the 50s was the creation of the Two-Tone Pumps. With their beige leather to elongate the legs and the black tip to make feet look smaller they quickly became a staple in many women’s wardrobes.
The End of an Era….but not a Brand
In 1971, Mademoiselle Chanel passed away at the Paris Ritz on January 10th, the place where she had spent most of her life. Her final note to her legacy was, “May my legend prosper and thrive. I wish it a long and happy life!” Her posthumous collection was a huge success and we know that her final wish for the Chanel name came true as Chanel is still one of the most iconic and noteworthy brands in fashion today.
Oh So Posh U.R. at Posh
At Posh Upscale Resale we sell only the highest quality items in the best condition. We have all of our handbags, accessories and higher-end items authenticated. We have something for everyone, from designers like Gucci, Chanel, Prada and Hermes, to department store brands such as Madewell, Banana Republic, Inc, Free People, Ralph Lauren and more all for one-third to a quarter of their originally retail price!
Shop us online at www.poshupscaleresale.com, or if you are located in the Bellingham, WA area we are open Wednesday – Sunday 11:30pm – 4:30pm at 1315 – 11th Street (inside McKenzie’s Alley in Historic Fairhaven)
*Posh UR is not associated with or affiliated with any of the designer brands that we sell. All copyrights are reserved to go to the original brand owners.*