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Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, nicknamed “Coco”, was born August 19th, 1883, and died January 10th, 1971. She was a French businesswoman, fashion designer, and the founder of Chanel. At the age of 12, her mom died of Bronchitis, leaving her dad to take care of 5 children. Her dad sent his two sons to work as farm workhands and sent his three daughters to an orphanage that provided care for poor orphans. Her life in the orphanage was hard, lacked proper funding, and was strictly disciplined. At the age of 18, she was too old to be in the orphanage, so she went to a boarding house for Catholic girls. Chanel would often retell her past life in many different ways that were not true. She would tell people that when her mother died, her father sailed to America to look for work while she lived with her two aunts. She would also say she was born later than 1883 and that her mother died when she was younger than 12 years old.

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Chanel is the only fashion designer listed on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. Chanel extended her influence beyond tailoring clothing, comprehending her design aesthetic in jewelryhandbags, and fragrances. She was credited in the post World War I era for releasing women from the stereotypical “corseted silhouette” and spreading the sporty, casual, feminine style. She reached both financial and social success as a businesswoman and held a social importance in the French high society that all goes back to the connections she made through her businesses. Many rumors were spread about her. Chanel changed from living a nomadic and poor life, traveling to market towns, to enjoying a luxurious, high class life.

By Mariam Omar