Vintage Chanel bags, vintage Chanel earrings, vintage Chanel jackets are all as treasured today as their modern counterparts. In fact much of any Chanel new season collection is often re-issue of classics such as the Chanel 2.55 flap bag or Chanel camera bag.
But who was Coco Chanel and why do her collections have such longevity?
Gabriel “Coco” Chanel was born on 19 August 1883 although she later claimed it was 1893 – but you should never ask a lady her age!! sadly her mother died when Coco was little and so she grew up in an orphanage run by nuns. it was there that she learnt to sew.
But fashion wasn’t Coco’s first career – that was singing on the stage. And it is believed that is where so got her name which is a diminutive of cocotte, or a kept woman. But Chanel had her head screwed on and soon a boyfriend backed her first shop which was a milliners on Rue Cambon in Paris. Other millinery shops followed and it was almost by accident that she began to design clothes. One cold day Chanel fashioned herself a dress from a sweater. Her friends loved it and do she did the same for them. In a way thst sweater dress embodies the Chanel style which was masculine, comfortable and elegant.
And it wasn’t long until Chanel then gave us the LBD. Up until then dressing was about colour. Now it became about cut, comfort and accessories. Which led Chanel onto accessories.
Originally the accessories were an integral part of a top or dress or jacket. But people started to remove them to wear with other outfits. And so Chanel started to produce separate pieces. Always bold and eye catching. Always costume jewellery. She used many materials including Gripoix, faux pearls, lucite and gilt. Below us a selection if earrings spanning the 1950s to early 1990s.
The jewellery often bore the CC logo or said Rue Cambon. The black earrings are a good example of the former and the faux pearls of the latter. The diamanté ones have a lovely desk green Gripoix centre. The detail on the looking glass pendant is not clear and do a further picture is below.
At the same time Chanel was producing stunning bags. The iconic 2.55 double flap bag was first produced in February 1955 (hence its name). The hidden pocket was said to be to keep love letters secret and the deep red link g was the shade of red of the uniform at the orphanage where Chanel grew up.
Other iconic styles include the camera bag and the many bags with leather and chain straps. Like the lovely black lambs leather camera bag featured in this photograph.
But Chanel was more than a designer. She had opinions which she wasn’t afraid to share. Three of my favourites are “fashion passes; style remains”, “to be irreplaceable, one must always be different” and “the most courageous act us to think for yourself; aloud”.
Sadly Coco Chanel died in 1971. She had never married and had no children. But what a full life she led and what a legacy she left. Vintage Chanel is as coveted as the latest collection. What an achievement!!