Gabrielle Chanel was born in Saumur in 1883. She opened her own milliner's with the help of her lover Arthur 'Boy' Capel and the support of Etienne Balsan. This venture met with unexpected success and Gabrielle Chanel took her love of dressmaking a step further, opening more shops and embarking upon a career making clothes as well. She transformed women's clothing by doing away with corsets to make way for dresses and suits. She also created the eternal Chanel No 5 fragrance, as well as a line of jewelry. Breaking away from the period's trends, she used jersey fabric for her creations.
Karl Lagerfeld has been Chanel's creative director since 1983. He has perpetuated Coco Chanel's legacy by referring to the house's style codes in each new collection he designs. He reissued the famous quilted '2.55' bag (the number refers to the date the original model was created: February 1955) in an up-to-date version, brought back the tweed suit, that gets a new take every season and created the 'Boy' bag named after Coco Chanel's companion. Coco's favorite camellias pop up on fabrics and Chanel watches. Lagerfeld has also created a line of cosmetics and beauty products.
The key pieces:
The quilted 2.55 bag, the tweed suit, the little black dress and the 'Boy' bag.