Prof. Lubomir Stoykov

Gabrielle Coco Chanel was born on August 19, 1883, in Saumur, France. She loses her mother when she is 12 years old and is sent with her sisters to the orphanage at the Catholic Monastery in Aubazine. At age 17 she left the shelter and began to work as a seamstress during the day and as a cabaret singer at night. In 1913 she opened her first boutique in Deauville, and two years later she opened a second store. In 1916 she presented her debut collection and her creations appeared for the first time on the pages of the Vogue magazine. In 1919 she was already a famous designer and founded the fashion house of the same name. In 1921 she worked on the creation of Chanel №5 perfume, and five years later she presented the world with the little black dress. In 1939, after the announcement of World War II, Chanel closed her fashion house. In 1954 she returned to fashion. In 1957, Coco Chanel was awarded a prize for outstanding work in the fashion industry and was named the most influential designer of the century. Coco Chanel died on January 10, 1971 in Paris, just days before her new collection. In the Times magazine list for the one hundred most influential figures of the twentieth century, she is the only representative of the fashion industry.

What turns the name of Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel into myth and legend? Her immortal masterpieces in the art of fashion? Her numerous adventures with great personalities from business, art and politics? Or is her hard-core (and, as some say, cruel) character and determination to be number one? Why is she one of the most popular fashion icons in the twentieth century and what is her individual style of dressing? How can today from the distance of time be appreciated by her not only in the world of fashion and clothing design, but also in the whole area of culture and civilization? ...

Much is written about Coco Chanel's heavy and unhealthy childhood, her mother who died early and her father abandoning her, the monastic education she received in orphanages and her cabaret past as a singer. Controversy is the story of the origin of her popular nickname "Coco". It is said that the first father of the fashion creator begins to turn so gently to her. Later, when she earns her livelihood as a street singer, she often sings the song for the puppy Coco, and gradually the name of the song is transferred to the performer. She is so accustomed to him that she does not share her new nickname for the rest of her life. Her childhood may have been tough and tortured, but in any case, fascinating and interesting. However, it is not necessary to repeat scrupulously the biographical details to suggest that Chanel's designing and artistic phenomenon is shaped by her hard and scarce life-start.

A beginning in which domestic deprivation, family discomfort, and the bitter but genuine rural pattern of existence have made an irreplaceable contribution to the personal formation of the future stylist, vaccinating her against the excessive temptations of money, on the one hand, and the steady twists of fate and vital and professional falls, on the other.





Coco Chanel has bequeathed many sentences and winged phrases for clothing, fashion, style, cosmetics, and additions that allow her aesthetics and philosophy to be touched, albeit very briefly. This ideology represents a wonderful mixture of intuition and professionalism, a sense of realism and practicality, creative courage, ingenuity and humorous reflex.

Her replies, which are directly addressed to the essence of fashion and style, range from spontaneous humorous aphorisms to profound and insightful findings. Chanel does not miss out on the transience, the superficiality of fashion, and why not the modesty in fashion. In this sense, two of her maxims mark the wonderful light side of fashion: "Fashion is what comes out of fashion" and "I do not like word fashion. Fashion passes, style remains: it is like a tree that is being renewed and developed. " This ingenious phrase carries the charge of affirmation of the original and individual in appearance, and at the same time it is a warning against the absolutisation of fashion trends and the suppression of the personal at the expense of the commercial.

In a purely design aspect, her suggestions have the value of style guides. The proportions - harmony or imbalance - are very important for the final acceptance of the garment's messages, of the person wearing it. Here we can trust Mademoiselle, who emphasizes that: "Fashion, as well as architecture, is a matter of proportions." Coco Chanel often advises her clients and admirers to be moderate and not to overdo their quest for originality and unusualness, and not to aim too blindly at expensive clothes: "Be careful with originality - in lady's fashion it can lead to masquerade! Nothing ages the woman as much as the overly rich suit ".

Emblematic in aesthetic and constructive terms is her statement: "The thighs but not the knees can be displayed", but another reason for serious reflection is one of her phrases: "I like when fashion goes out on the street but I do not allow it to come from there". Concerning the last phrase, there may be many controversies about whether it is too conservative and outmoded in terms of the growing influence of subcultures and street style in our time. Nonetheless, the designer had a perfectly accurate idea of real life, and what happens on the street, in everyday life. Diana Vreeland - one of the most influential people in the world of fashion, invites her to look more often to the street, to follow the street style. At that time, Vreeland was editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar, and later headed the American Vogue magazine for many years.

But Coco Chanel is a human like everyone else, and although in most of her works she is a fashion innovator and rationalizer, there are times when she is in a more retrograde position, which is why she has to pronounce final sentences. Such public criticism she addresses to young Paco Rabanne and his experiments with metal, saying the angry words: "He is not a senior stylist, but a senior metallurgist!". A sequential sign that Coco Chanel is a true queen of both elegance and perfect, short, witty and fun definitions of fashion and style is another verbal find: "I make an optimistic collection because everything around goes badly."

Today, millions of people around the world do not cease to admire her style, but they do not stop and repeat her maxims and native advent sentences that strike her indelible aesthetic worldview and her fashion principles: "Elegance is when the inside is as beautiful as the outside. "; "When I look at a dress, I always think if I would wear it. If the answer is no, I just give up "; "For a dress to be beautiful, the woman wearing it should look naked beneath it." In her brilliant wit, her observability, a sharp look and even I would say - aesthetic intuition, and on the other hand, the spectacular synthesis between her natural intelligence, her unique ability to wise generalizations and her unmatched skill in short and simple phrases to incorporate rich and original content.

When talking about the hat she has a very special attitude related to the excellent opportunity to emphasize the beauty of the face, its peculiarities and proportions, as well as to add extra femininity and sophistication to its owner. Her talkative tongue does not fail to bark with the male half, and on this occasion: "There are two things that a man has not given him to comprehend: the mystery of the Creation and the hat of his wife." Chanel has not separated her hats, she has seen them as an integral part of clothing and appearance. In most cases, when she worked, she had a hat on her head - a fact that means she on the one hand keeps much of that supplement, and on the other - that she ritualises her work in the sense that even when she works, the designer must be elegant.




The beauty of the face is the result of heredity, but also of an adequate way of living. Saying, "Nature gives you a nice face when you are twenty. It depends on you whether you will keep it at fifty, "the designer undoubtedly understands everyone's aesthetic responsibility to themselves. Because good lifestyle, systematic but competent outdoor care can really do miracles that rival the nature.

Perfume is of the utmost importance to the designer - not only as a means of attracting attention, leaving a good impression, temptation and seduction. She was well aware of her commercial value, and so she worked so zealously in the perfumery and cosmetic industries. In the Treasury of thoughts about fashion, two of her diamonds shine: "Woman who does not use perfume, no future" and "Perfume anywhere you expect to be able to kiss you." In other words, it means that aromatic fluids are decisive for a woman's style - they give character, temperament, attitude and mood, but also culture, soul and strategic skills to the other sex.

It is not true that Coco Chanel is the first designer to create her own perfume brand - before her there are others who have done so earlier - Paul Poiret, for example, is among them. But it is true that it has made the biggest contribution to promoting the role of perfume as an unchanging component of the new fashion, the lifestyle as a whole. Her immortal "Chanel No. 5", although long-established as a unique and tremendous scent, continues to raise questions about the name it gives to her when in 1921 the famous perfumer Ernest Beaux offers her various samples of fragrant fluids, which she chooses her favorite. In the book of French journalist and writer Marie-Dominique Lelièvre, "Chanel & Co." Coco and her surroundings, "this is described as follows:" She picked up several options, among which number 5, and on the question of what name to give him, Miss Chanel replied: "I present my collection of dresses on May 5th, fifth month of the year , so let's leave him the number he's wearing, number 5, and let it bring him luck."

The use of perfume for her was a matter of ritual, of a sacred action. In her memories, one of her closest aide, Lillo Marcouan, remarked her abundantly overprivileged before leaving the hotel and going to her studio: "Mademoiselle was embedded in a skirt and immediately perfumed, then her bra and perfume, blouse, perfume . For that, she needed a dose of perfume to mark her presence on the few hundred meters that shared Ritz from her store. "A great example of how a nice and abundant scent besides a civilization sign is also an attribute of style, elegance and attractiveness.





Chanel's initial realization in the fashion world, like other colleagues, is related to a small fashion business and banal business. Between 1913 and 1916, she worked in Deauville's hat shop, opened her first store there and showed her debut collection at her atelier at Cambronne Street in Paris, imposing wearing dresses-shemishes.

A few years later, Coco Chanel launched pants and short skirts, introduced leather coats and produced her first perfume Chanel No. 5. She is also the first designer to act as a model for her own works, using one of her pictures, published in Harper's Bazaar to advertise the fragrant liquid, and the irony and mockery of the legendary designer about the non-functional clothes and additions, the bulky and clumsy silhouettes, the big wide-headed hats, the corsets, and the crinolines, th her sarcasm and publicly tossed her digs. Years later this respect it will be seen in opposition to her wildly acclaimed style of Christian Dior "new look" - immediately after the Second World War.

Chanel's striving for practical and comfortable clothing and the imposition of the so-called" "Sophisticated simplicity" generally accompanies her entire creative path. What is its pragmatic and - as modern today to say - minimalist design motivation? There are many reasons - aesthetic and utilitarian - but two are certainly among the leading: on the one hand, the new dynamic and emancipating world implies that women's vision is in sync with the new role of women in society and, on the other hand, Mademoiselle Chanel to be innovative in style, to anticipate the direction of the fashionable winds, to merge with time but also to overtake it, guessing the wishes of women and relying on the codes of their own passions.

From 1924 to 1938 in strong competition with Vione, Lanvin, Patu, Poiret, Balenciaga and other prominent colleagues, she succeeds in having her fresh thinking, respect for luxury combined with simplicity and last but not least with her special attitude to textiles. Even when she invented her famous sweaters at the dawn of her fashion design, she not only visited the factories, she researched the technology and approved the samples, but she also discovered her own production of original - invented textiles. In the period leading up to World War II, she introduced the popular "little black dress", "gave birth to" skirts, spread and fashion modern blazers and raincoats, and what is more, the garrison, invented the immortal tailors, and revolutionized ladies fashion.

War and luxury, militarism and fashion do not suit you. That's why in on the eve of the war Mademoiselle Chanel closes his studio and packs his belongings for a long time at the Ritz Hotel. After the thunder of the bloody war, in which Chanel does not follow France's national interests very much, and after Christian Dior emerges first on the fashion scene with the loose cuts and bulky silhouettes, she, though 71 years old, decides to turn away the challenge of time. He calls the true Manon, together they form a team of 300 people and with a collection shown on February 5, 1954, he announces his return to the fashion world. Only a few years later she was awarded the prestigious Neumann Marcus Award for the most successful designer in the last 50 years.


British author Colin McDowell is clear that throughout the twentieth century there are two stylists who create the new concept of fashion. And these are Coco Chanel and Cristobal Balenciaga. In her book, "Fashion Today," the researcher noted the decisive and categorical merit of the renowned designers: "Their contribution was much thinner and less elusive: they changed the concept of fashion. The previous one was based on raw body control using corsets, metallic bracelets and the creation of garments designed to make the old figure look young. Chanel struck the jackets and straightened the skirts, as Balenciaga introduced the baby doll and the shesheets - requiring a normal and unbuilt figure - a figure that only young women have. Only a small step remained in the mini-fashion. "

By the breath of January 10, 1971 Mademoiselle Chanel dressed the most famous women - actresses, wives of state men and various secular beauties - Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Marlene Dietrich, Grace Kelly, Romney Schneider, Jana Moro and others, creates new scents; design stage and film clothing. In 1983, Karl Lagerfeld was named Chanel's fashion designer and designer, Chanel, who continues the best of the great stylist's traditions, supporting the Chanel as the number one in the world for a long time.

In an imaginary meeting - a conversation between Chanel and Lagerfeld, published by her eminent successor, Coco Chanel finds "nice" designers like Calvin Klein, Tom Ford, John Galliano and Hedi Slimane. On Lagerfeld's conditional question why she thinks that fashion times are terrible today, Chanel replies, "Fashion today can only make choices between vulgarity and some fake intellect. I once found the "rich poor girl". Today, luxury is associated with quality, but not with the real luxury of my time. Besides, we were not as artificially "youthful" as we do today. "The big paradox of Lagerfeld's impersonally controversial interview with the great designer is her belief in the style:" I'm dying of boredom imagining what style today means. Style - this is the greatest misunderstanding of all time. Today style is used instead of fashion. What does style mean? There can be no uniform style. "


There would hardly be anything foolish about the claim that Mademoiselle Chanel was a kind of frivolous adventurous and insatiable "madman". Her numerous ties, on the one hand, are valuable and rich in emotions and culture, and on the other hand, a sign of freedom of thought and overturned individualism. For decades, the cult and mythical phrase of the designer, who, after deflecting the Werner Duke's proposal for marriage, ignored his immense wealth and all kinds of goodies, offered to his relatives and friends: "There are many dukes and duchesses, but Chanel is only one! ".

The men in Coco Chanel's life are a lot and class. Boy Capel is one of her most commented relationships. Not only does he light her on horse racing, but she also gladly lets her wear his clothes and partner in bohemia. The male circle around Chanel is painted with rich artistic and aristocratic charge - the names of Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Duke of Windsor, Grand Duke Dimitri, Salvador Dali, Luchiano Visconti, Jean Renoir, Franco Zeffirelli and others. Coco Chanel is a friend of both Winston Churchill and the Nazi scout baron von Dincklage. Her attitude towards men is similar to that of clothes: uncompromising in her choice, she is easily attached to them because they are not only a source of emotion and security but also an incomparable stimulator of her fantasy and creative courage. The fact that it is itself the center of a company that shines the names of the great intellectuals and artists of the twentieth century is also indicative of the equivalence of fashion and design with other arts. It should not be forgotten that the chanel's modest contribution corresponds to its genius's ability to combine and adapt elements of the men's wardrobe to the ladies, to blend in a pattern and detail characteristic of both the male and the female style of dressing.


Coco Chanel's attitude to fashion journalists and the press is quite controversial as her own personality. In some cases, she is extremely unpopular and unresponsive to media representatives, while in others she wants to get their attention that when she interviews her, she does her best to prolong the conversation and - as her biographers suspect - journalists do not have time to visit the reviews of their competitors. At the same time, her closest associates recall that one of the easiest jobs was the PR department. In practice, this usually means not allowing journalists to the designer, diverting requests for interviews, and keeping silent about the media. But the media - especially the American - do not spare their compliments of Chanel and her re-entry into fashion. After her fashion show in 1954, Life wrote: "She influences everything. At the age of seventy-one, Chanel creates something more than style, she creates a revolution. "


Lillu Marcuan testifies how the designer guides her to communicate with journalists, how to make presents and offer compliments - either small handbags or miles and thank you words. Kindness to the press in some cases "grew" in a strange rigor to media representatives who were not always allowed to photograph the collection, and most journalists instead painted sketches of her latest models presented publicly. Generally, Chanel is unhappy with interviews and has repeatedly complained that Lillu Marcuan can quietly communicate with the press, and answer questions on her behalf.

Coco Chanel's attitude to journalists is controversial - from one extreme - overly confidential to the other - enigmatic, even hostile. In questions about her intimate life, she or she responds in a way that she has no interest in temptations of that kind, and that they are Satan's work, or that she has one love and that is Boy Caple. This strangeness also manifests when the reporters ask her what her recipe is for success. Without hesitation, she says: "In the morning one orchid, and two gardenias in the evening." The special attitude towards the media and journalists, of course, has its own exceptions: one of her closest friends and part of her unchanged company is the editor- match "Erve Mill, with whom you often see her talk. Mademoiselle Chanel is the greatest symbol of fashion in the twentieth century. The immortal tailor and classical femininity, who for many decades have overcome transience, are truly emblematic. Reminiscences a la Coco Chanel - tailors, ribbons and pearls - are often present in the collection of her successor, Karl Lagerfeld. However, it is curious how this famous designer, who has been the main creator of all Chanel collections for over twenty years, has preserved and continued the tradition laid by his great predecessor?

When I was visiting a Chanel Fashion Center in Paris some time ago as a journalist, I asked the same question to the Public Relations Chief Veronica Perez. Here's what she said to me: "There are codes that belong to Chanel and which Karl has recreated in a sketch. Here you are seeing Karl with his black glasses conceived, and around him are all those symbols created by Mademoiselle Chanel - the tailors, the hats, the bags, the accessories - all that Lagerfeld found here ten years ago and which he exploits to this day. These are, in fact, the basic advantages of the Chanel fashion house. "Karl has a phrase from Goethe, which sums up his way of working here:" A better future must be created from the elements of the past. "

During my meeting with Madame Perez at Rue Cambronne in Paris, she showed me various photos and sketches showing Kaiser Karl's attitude to Chanel's great designer heritage. Veronica Perez then said: "On this sketch we can see Lagerfeld, surrounded by these elements, conceived of the future of the Chanel line." As to the collection, he develops them and turns them in a different direction, overturns them, changes them, makes them -like, keeping in that direction and line.For example, colored cashmere, dark red - almost burgundy with a red, more pastel.The very stylish chain with large circles and big yellow buttons on the background of red.Taiere, Baroque cross and cardboard made bags Use the real tweed that is but, of course, the proportions are different, the ways of wearing - too, and Lagerfeld overturns them, forging them, for example those bags that Lagerfeld made from recycled cardboard - they are actually an example of such an alteration. straps, straps and many other components so typical of Chanel. "



Many of the designers, in the past and today, neglect their personal style of dressing and are less demanding for their appearance. This may be interpreted in some cases as a manifestation of artistic negligence; in others, as a precaution, thwarting themselves not to become victims of fashion, and in others as aesthetic self-doubt and their own choice of appearance. Coco Chanel, however, applies the principles of his design with equal rigor to both others and to himself. The tremendous influence it has on fashion and culture is due both to her works and to her individual style of dressing. She is the best model and mannequin of her works and brings them continuously with lust and consistency.

From the many photographs and from some television interviews that came to us, we get an idea of Mademoiselle Chanel's style of dressing - starting with white pants, black sweaters and pearl necklaces, earrings and fancy bracelets, and knitted waistcoats and costumes with jacket-lined jackets. She embodies her dressing style and one of the general tendencies in women's fashion in the last century - masculinization, the likeness of women's male style - boyish hairstyles, skirt or trousers. But she keeps the feminine, the feminist style interpreted in her genius way. That's why her attitude to the trousers is not quite unambiguous: "A woman in trousers still does not mean a good man."

Aesthetic discipline of this iconic icon is enviable. She has professed the philosophy that clothing is an organic part of us and that even when we are at work it must be adequate and impeccable. As Lillu Marcuan remarked: "... Whether it was raining or sunshine, she was always on her own, made-for-fashion, with a perfect hairstyle, a fitting jewel and a suit suit with the proper length. When she had a fever, she was wearing three more sheets of lingerie, adjusting the radiator to the highest degrees and working. "She usually went to her studio in a tight suit, silk shirt and woolen underwear. She held her hair very dark and did not allow a white hair to appear on her.

The basis for the construction of Chanel's individual appearance lies in what determines its design concept and its professional practice over the decades. Reasonably, Annette Tepper and Diana Edkins write in her book, The Power of Fashion, the following: "Chanel's views reflect an understanding of the world in which she was perceived. Her clothes were inspired by practicality, not by ideology. Long before she opened her hat shop, she was looking for a way not to dress like a typical veneer of Belle Epoque. But Chanel does not imitate women's clothes from the Parisian society - that kind of disgust for her. From the beginning she invaded her rich lover's dresses and adapted her clothes for herself. That is precisely what her originality is. Not so much of the appreciation she gives to male fashion conquers other women, but that these clothes seem perfectly suited to her. "Looking at the photos of Mademoiselle Coco Chanel, we see how her image has refined over the years in the direction of original femininity, minimalism, dosed aristocracy, and the curious mix of feminist and social values. In her personal style of dressing is coded at all her conception of women's clothing - stylish, comfortable and aesthetically justified.


We have already noted that Mademoiselle Coco Chanel has given dozens of immortal sentences and phrases to world fashion and culture. But one of them is certainly emblematic and indicative of the originality and authenticity of her unusual work: "Fashion passes, style remains!". That's why her credit to the evolution of world design is invaluable - for she managed to emancipate fashion from the traps of banal everyday life and exalt her to the pediment of high art. According to some fashion experts, only Coco Chanel and Cristobal Balenciaga have anticipated the trend in fashion dynamics and have simplified and functioned genially the ladies' clothing in a way that is still valid today. One of the best features for her and her style belongs to Salvador Dali, who thinks Chanel is biologically predestined for high fashion. She has the best-dressed body and soul. "

Coco Chanel's obsession and charisma is also reinforced by the fact that she is a double icon in fashion - both as a genius designer and as a woman dressing uniquely and ultimately. Her contribution to fashion, but also to the art and culture of the twentieth century, is inexhaustible and not yet fully understood. But can it cover the inexhaustible?

Gidel, Henry. Coco Chanel. Riva, Sofia, 2008; Marie-Dominique Lelièvre. Chanel & Co. Coco and her surroundings. Colibri. Sofia, 2016; O'Hara, J. Encyclopedia of Fashion. Library 48, S., 1995; Stoykov, L. Fashion Smiles. Jokes, aphorisms and sentences. Alma communication. Sofia, 2012; Encyclopedie de la mode. Nathan. Paris, France, 1989; Marquand, L. Coco Chanel hat mir erzalt ... Verlag Volk und Welt. Berlin, 1991; McDowell, C. Fashion today. Phaidon Press Limited. London, 2000; Reuters; Seeling, Ch. Fashion. The century of the designer from 1900 to 1999. Konёmann, 2000, Cologne; Tapert, A., Edkins, D. The Power of Style. London, 1995 and other publications in the Bulgarian and foreign press.

1. Chanel's favorite photograph.
Photo: © Horst P. Horst
2. Coco Chanel poses for "Harper's Bazaar" (later, this photo gets used for the famous advertisement of the Chanel №5 perfume).
Photo: © Tapert, A., Edkins, D. The power of style, London 1994.
3. Chanel demonstrates her rural background when she plays the accordion, decorated with nacre, 1937.
Photo: © Tapert, A., Edkins, D. The power of style, London 1994.
4. The showcase of her boutique at Rue Cambronne in Paris.
Photo: © Tapert, A., Edkins, D. The power of style, London 1994.
5. Mademoiselle Chanel is the best model for her own works.
Photo: © Tapert, A., Edkins, D. The power of style, London 1994.
6. Chanel having a heart-to-heart conversation with one of her favorite clients - actress Romy Schneider.
Photo: © Marquand, L.Coco Chanel hat mir erzalt ... Verlag Volk und Welt.Berlin, 1991.
7. The great designer selects the fabrics for her future works.
Photo: © Marquand, L.Coco Chanel hat mir erzalt ... Verlag Volk und Welt.Berlin, 1991.
8. Together with Jean Cocteau in Rome.
Photo: © Marquand, L.Coco Chanel hat mir erzalt ... Verlag Volk und Welt.Berlin, 1991.
9. Chanel finishing up try outs on her mannequin.
Photo: © Marquand, L.Coco Chanel hat mir erzalt ... Verlag Volk und Welt.Berlin, 1991.
10. Sketches and illustrations of Chanel, published in 1938s Harper's Bazaar.
Photo: © Tapert, A., Edkins, D. The power of style, London 1994.
11. “Pajamas” evening dress designed especially for the famous model Bettina, 1967
Photo: © Jean-Loup Sieff, Vogue, 1967.
12. Collage of Karl Lagerfeld with notable heritage elements of Coco Chanel.
Photo: © Seeling, Charlotte. Fashion. The century of the designer 1900-1999. Konemann, 2000.
13. Mademoiselle Chanel poses majestically, dressed in her own toilette.
Photo: © Tapert, A., Edkins, D. The power of style, London, 1994.

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