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Chanel S.A., commonly known as "Chanel", is a Parisian fashion house founded by the late couturier Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, recognized as one of the most established in haute couture, specializing in luxury goods (haute couture, ready-to-wear, handbags, perfumery, and cosmetics among others). According to Forbes, the privately held House of Chanel is jointly owned by Alain Wertheimer and Gerard Wertheimer who are the great-grandsons of the early (1924) Chanel partner Pierre Wertheimer.
The company has had many high-profile celebrities as spokesmodels, including Catherine Deneuve (1970s Chanel No. 5 spokesmodel), Nicole Kidman (early 2000s Chanel No. 5 spokesmodel), Audrey Tautou (current Chanel No.5 spokesmodel), Keira Knightley (current spokesmodel for Coco Mademoiselle), and most famously, Marilyn Monroe (1950s Chanel No. 5 spokesmodel) pictured splashing herself with a compartment of Chanel No. 5. The image is certainly the most famous of all Chanel advertisements, and continues to be one of the most popular advertisement photos in the history of marketing, used in countless biographies, and still selling in large quantities as a poster and art piece using Marilyn Monroe as the model. Marilyn Monroe brought this perfume to fame.
Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel heralded new designs and revolutionized the fashion industry by going "back to basics", incorporating elegance, class, and originality. Under her tight reign from 1909–1971, Coco Chanel held the title as 'Chief Designer' until her death on January 10, 1971.
In 1909, Gabrielle Chanel opened a shop on the ground floor of Balsan's apartment in Paris - the beginnings of what would later become one of the greatest fashion empires in the world. The Balsan home was a meeting place of the hunting elite of France and the gentlemen brought their fashionable mistresses along, giving Coco the opportunity to sell the women decorated hats. During this time Coco Chanel struck up a relationship with Arthur 'Boy' Capel, a member of the Balsan men's group.
He saw a businesswoman in Coco and helped her acquire her location at 31 Rue Cambon in Paris by 1910. There was already a couture shop in the building, and so Coco was not allowed in her lease to produce couture dresses. In 1913, Chanel introduced women's sportswear at her new boutique in Deauville and Biarritz, France. She detested the fashions of women who came to these resort towns. Chanel's designs tended to be simple rather than opulent in look (common haute couture fashion of the Belle Époque). World War I affected fashion. Coal was scarce and women were doing the factory jobs that men had held prior to the war; they needed warm clothing that would stand up to working conditions. Chanel fossella's designs from this era were affected by the new idea of women's sports. During World War I, Coco opened another larger shop on Rue Cambon in front of the Hôtel Ritz Paris. Here she sold flannel blazers, straight linen skirts, sailor tops, long jersey sweaters and skirt-jackets.With her financial situation precarious in the early years of her design career, Chanel purchased jersey primarily for its low cost. The fabric draped well and suited Chanel's designs, which were simple, practical, and often inspired by men's wear, especially the uniforms prevalent when World War I broke out in 1914. Her fashion became known in 1915 throughout France for its simplicity. In the years 1915 and 1917, Harper's Bazaar mentioned that Chanel's name was "on the list of every buyer." Her boutique at 31 Rue Cambon previewed simple day dress-and-coat ensembles and black evening dresses in lace or jet-embroidered tulle (she also piled cushions of feathers, fur and metallic fabrics on the sofas in the gray and amber salons).
Coco Chanel established her reputation as a meticulous fashion couturier. Following the fashion trends of the 1920s, Chanel produced beaded dresses. The suit in two or three pieces created in 1920 remains a modern fashion look. The suit was advocated as the "new uniform for afternoon and evening as far back as 1915." 1921 saw the introduction of her first perfume Chanel No. 5. Earnest Beaux created the fragrance for Coco and she named it after her lucky number 5. The fragrance was a success. The signature scent was a result of her belief in superstitions. She was scheduled to show her collection on the fifth day of the fifth month. Coco informed Harper's Bazaar, "simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance", in 1923.