On August 19th 1883, the founder of one of the world’s most influential fashion houses was born. Enter Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel. Mademoiselle Chanel went on to champion the little black dress, revolutionize handbags, and embrace fashion jewelry—three iconic moves still relevant today. In honor of her birthday, we highlight five signature closet staples that have the visionary designer to thank for.
The Skirt Suit
Known as the Chanel suit (and influenced by menswear), the two-piece ensemble features a collarless, fitted jacket and a coordinating straight-cut, knee-length skirt. Introduced in 1925, the sophisticated set went on to become the go-to outfit for women entering the workforce, and Gabrielle Chanel’s signature look.
The Little Black Dress
Freeing women from the constraints of the corset in the 1920s, Gabrielle Chanel introduced loose-fit silhouettes that allowed the wearer to move in comfort. In 1926, the designer crafted a calf-length, long sleeved dress that would go on to become a symbol of sophistication—the little black dress.
The Shoulder Bag
The quilted 2.55 bag was launched in February 1955 (hence its moniker) and revolutionized how women carried handbags. Chanel dreamed up the style with practicality in mind, as handbags were void of a strap and clutched at that time. Complete with a chain strap, the flap bag was designed to be slung over the shoulder, and thus enabled women to keep their hands free.
The Two-Tone Slingback
Created in 1957, the two-tone, capped shoe was beige and featured a contrasting black toe. With the help of Parisian shoemaker Massaro, Chanel created the slingback to give the appearance of a longer leg and shorter foot. The shoe adjusted to the movement of the foot which allowed the wearer to move more freely.
Gabrielle Chanel often layered up on strings of faux pearls in various lengths. The designer would combine real and imitation jewelry for a high impact look that stood out against her streamlined designs.
Homepage image: Coco Chanel by Boris Lipnitzki