Gabrielle, the name that gives way to the nickname “Coco”, is at the heart of the CHANEL founder’s personality. In fact, the name borrowed from an archangel resonates with rebelliousness, freedom, passion and allure — four traits that governed Gabrielle Chanel’s life. Four values that today, more than ever, continue to inspire women everywhere.
“If you’re born without wings, don’t do anything to stop them from growing.”
To conquer, to master, to love: that’s how Gabrielle Chanel defined liberty, her personal freedom.
Refusing to depend on anyone, the designer founded her House alone, fought for its success and earned her liberty. Gabrielle placed work over all else: for her, it was the prerequisite for success and longevity. In rejecting diktats, she granted women freedom of movement and made supple, traditionally masculine materials such as jersey and tweed her signature. She would transform those emblems into symbols that surpassed codes and were mastered in every line, silhouette, marinière and suit. She did away with hats to reveal women’s hair and established a suntanned face as the sign of radiant beauty and independent femininity. A barrier-breaker, she defied tradition and launched her own perfume, N°5, a floral aldehyde composition that would invent modern perfumery and establish the codes of olfactory abstraction. To present it, she chose a bottle of radical purity with an octagonal stopper that reprised the shape of the Place Vendôme. Later, she would make high jewellery a favourite area of expression: a devotee of faux pearls and costume jewellery, she turned around and showered women with Bijoux de Diamants, a collection made of diamonds.
A preference for friendship over social striving made Gabrielle Chanel singular in her day: she loved without lies, with passion and honesty; worked for herself and succeeded on her own, and quite simply became herself. Rising above a predestined status, casting aside whatever chains and established rules hindered creativity, overturning convention, liberating the body and, moreover, the spirit to choose what she wanted to be: in mastering her own destiny, Gabrielle won her independence, the right she had seized on as a child and never relinquished to anyone. The kind that, today, women claim just as Gabrielle Chanel did in her time.