Monthly Archives: September 2013

Il était une fois, Gabrielle Chanel… Once upon a time, Gabrielle Chanel…

Il était une fois, Gabrielle Chanel… Once upon a time, Gabrielle Chanel…

This post was originally published in 2013. It has been updated.  
Chanel… A name. A brand. An iconic logo. 
 
Chanel… The little black dress. The tweed jacket. The fragrance. 
 
In her private suite at the Ritz Hotel, Paris
Arriving at “the office,” 31 rue Cambon, Paris.
Chanel… Behind the legend, a woman. Gabrielle ChanelCocoMademoiselle
   
 
Ambitious, opportunistic, strong-headed and outspoken. Mysterious, complex, rebellious, fiercely independent.
  
  
Chanel… Loved life; loved men; loved her work. In everything she did, sought perfection.
  
With her great love, Boy Capel

Chanel… To me, to many, an inspiration… 
 
Mon petit, ne sortez jamais de chez vous, même pour cinq minutes, 
sans que votre mise soit parfaite, bas tirés et tout. 
C’est peut-être le jour où vous allez rencontrer l’homme de votre vie.”
 
“I don’t understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little –
if only out of politeness.
And then, you never know, maybe that’s the day she has a date with destiny. 
And it’s best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.”
  
  
How I love the carefully crafted quotes she left behind, creating her own legend, one line at a time…
 
Quotes about fashion and style…
 
“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably, 
and they remember the woman.” 
 
“Fashion changes, but style endures.” 
 
“A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” 
  
 
Inspirational quotes for women…

“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” 

“You live but once; you might as well be amusing.” 

“If you were born without wings, do nothing to prevent them from growing.” 

“You can be gorgeous at thirty, charming at forty, 
and irresistible for the rest of your life.” 
 
And always, the inner-strength, the self-awareness, the incredible faith in her own destiny…
 
“I invented my life by taking for granted that everything I did not like would have an opposite, which I would like.” 
 
 “I imposed black; it still going strong today, for black wipes out everything else around” 
“Arrogance is in everything I do. 
It is in my gestures, the harshness of my voice, in the glow of my gaze, 
in my sinewy, tormented face.” 
  
 
Chanel, you amazing creature, you notorious pain-in-the-derrière… You paved the way for other unique, independent and successful women…
 
First there was Gabrielle Chanel… Then came… 
Marlene…
Katharine…
Diane
(Annie Leibovitz) 
 
Forty years after your death, they are still talking about you… 

A young Chanel and her aunt in front of her first boutique,
Deauville, France (1913)
How they respect your name, your brand, the world over!
 
Karl Lagerfeld, your successor, another creative genius and talented marketer, has just offered us a special gift, a few months before Christmas. Several short movies remind us what an incredible life you had, “once upon a time,” against all odds. Like you, like your creations, these little gems are stylish, smart, and captivating. 

 Chapter 7, Mademoiselle Chanel, my favorite, details Chanel’s great comeback at age 70, and her final years. Beautiful and moving.
Because for Gabrielle Chanel, only the best would do. Mademoiselle may be long gone, but even today, whenever the Chanel brand is concerned, only the best will do.

Illustration: I (and many of my countrymen,) will never forget the 1992 TV ad for Coco (the fragrance.) Shot by Jean-Paul Goude, with Vanessa Paradis (Singer, award-winning actress, model and French icon,) the short movie became an instant classic.

Merci, Madame Chanel. You continue to impress, and inspire. 

A bientôt.


“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”
— Coco Chanel —



Afterword: 

I once followed in Coco’s footsteps. Read the story here

17 Responses to Il était une fois, Gabrielle Chanel… Once upon a time, Gabrielle Chanel…

  1. Wow, I love this post – It’s super! I really want my 2 older daughters to read it!! I love giving them insprirations of strong independent women! Thank you for such a beautiful – informational post. Interesting story – my third daughter is super strong in personality (well, I guess you must hold your own when you have 2 older sisters) – She’s spririted, charming and full of sunshine everyday. When she was little (about 2 1/2) – she nicknamed herself – Coco!! and it has stuck! Now, I will have to print this post and save it for her when she is older!! Thank you!

    • Well, I am so happy you enjoyed this story, Jennifer. You are right to raise your daughters to be strong women. Your little “Coco” sounds delightful! I bet she is quite the hit in Bordeaux with her French/American roots! 🙂

  2. A WONDERFULLY ENJOYABLE READ!!!-gosh I adore her…my Ex French boyfriend and I reconnected a few years back…I was so offended that he called me mrs-I was horrified-I said I am not married and never have been-MADEMOISELLE please-then in French class we debated the fazing out of mademoiselle with the exception of the young….some article was written about the changing culture/language-I still believe in the title mademoiselle like the great COCO-I LOVE HER STORY-thanks for sharing-as always

    • Good for you, g. I am guessing “Mademoiselle” would have been horrified to hear the ubiquitous “Ms…” I don’t believe she was embarrassed in the least by her single status. She did not care either what others thought about her. And that is the greatest strength of all. A favorite quote of mine: “I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t think about you at all.” – Ha! What a tough cookie she was.

  3. Thank you Vero for sharing the Lagerfeld’s short movies links. Incredible work. Truly the gems of the genre.
    I’ve read a book ‘Intimate Chanel’ lovingly and honestly compiled, the treasure trove of quotes and illustrations. Behind the legend She was a steel magnolia indeed: vulnerable, fragile, caring and loving, selflessly and discretely generous.
    Great post!

    • Welcome back, Natalie. I hope you are enjoying the fall in Canada… Like you, I have read “Intimate Chanel,” and found it interesting since it shed additional light on her private life (through the anecdotes of a relative.) I don’t think anyone will ever know the real Coco Chanel. That is how she wanted it. And that is how she has kept us all talking all that time, clever woman 🙂

  4. What a life. What an influence. Really. Where would we be without her? I remember that ad with Vanessa Paradis. Classic. Comme toujours, I loved this post.

  5. I enjoyed this post for many reasons. Firstly I never tire of reading about strong, influential women but you brought together all those wonderful quotes in one place and one I haven’t read before ‘You can be gorgeous at thirty …..’ That’s certainly one to remember! Her strong character and sense of fun shines through in these photos and aren’t those pearls just fabulous! Best wishes from a cooler England. Autumn has arrived! I hope all is well with you, Véronique.

    • Thank you for stopping by, as always, miss b. I won’t lie: This was a fun post to research and write. In fact, I kept finding so many “good” quotes, it was hard to choose, then organize them 🙂 A challenging job, but somebody had to do it…

      Autumn has arrived here also, with a LOT of rain. This is Seattle, after all.

  6. Of course, ma chère, you already know that I share you feelings for Mesdemoiselles Coco and Marlene. Two incredible women. The world would be so much less interesting had these grande dame never graced us with their presence. I, for one, would feel the poorer for it.

    Brava, Véro. Another fascinating post.

    Big bisous, M-T