In the early 1980's I tried to emulate Coco Chanel with my wardrobe and through designing and sewing my own clothing. I had full intentions of eventually studying fashion in Toronto and though I was accepted life drew me in a different direction. So many memories of my mother wearing Chanel No. 5 brought to mind Coco (Gabrielle) as a positive influence due to overcoming her circumstances to become a highly respected and successful designer and business woman. She began life as the daughter of a single woman who died of bronchitis, then was sent to live in an orphanage in a convent with her sisters. She became a seamstress and cabaret singer, followed by milliner designing popular hats (through the support of a cavalry officer) and finally, through dedication, perseverance and hard work, a clothing and jewellery designer. Much of her early inspiration came from men's clothing and toiletries, using jersey for her deluxe casual wear which had only been used for men's under garments at the time. Though I have never agreed with her stance during the second world war, I admired the courage and independence of her youth...and, of course, very glad that she introduced the little black dress as a wardrobe staple.
AIRdirondack Art Project