Discover the greatest people of art, literature, science and fashion. Coco Chanel

4. Coco Chanel (1883-1971)French fashion designer, creator of the Chanel brand: hats, haute couture (high fashion) and everyday (pret-a-porte or ready to wear) clothes, jewelry, perfume (1909 – present)

Coco ChanelCoco Chanel


Coco Chanel” mixed-media on canvas

Artist: Irina Gorelkina

(for the background of this work I have chosen Chanel’s dominating colours – black and white; for her image I have used her photos from late 1930s).

Created: 2013

Doll’s height : 30 cm (without a hat)

Material: sculpted wax, fabric, wire, metal sheet

Canvas size: 20” x 26”

Coco ChanelCoco Chanel

Could just one skinny woman make an actual revolution?

Yes, if this woman is- Coco Chanel.

It is hardly possible to find in History a female figure, who was not a queen or a politician, but could make such a huge influence on human society as Coco Chanel has. I would call her “a leader of feminism in fashion” because she quite fast and easily liberated women from corsets, crinolines, long skirts and nonsensical underwear and successfully dressed them into very practical, comfortable, simple and elegant clothing. She, very harmoniously incorporated in woman’s fashion practically all elements of a traditional man’s costume.

Chanel was born in a poor house. After her mother’s death and father’s disappearance (Chanel was 12 years old) she spent five years in an orphanage where she worked hard, lived in an unheated dormitory, slept on an iron bedstead and ate watered-down porridge. When she closed this miserable and tragic page of her life she desired only one thing – never ever get back to poverty again. And she did not.

Coco Chanel possessed an extraordinary taste and fantastic charisma. She was incredibly stylish, extremely talented, madly ambitious, highly determined, bossy, tough, confident, bitchy and practically indifferent to moral or religious principles. She adored publicity and fame. Once she gained a circle of aristocracy and made the desirable connections she never lost them. She constantly extended and strengthened her position in high society. And this great talent of hers provided a long and brilliant professional career.

© Text and visuals created by IRINA GORELKINA