Paris Fashion | The Icon | Coco Chanel

The third and final installment in the profiling series brings us to a natural conclusion: the icon. Yes it’s obvious and yes it’s clichéd but did you really expect me to go on without talking about her? Parisian fashion basically owes everything it is to the woman. And so without further ado, I present to you the fashion deity that is Coco Chanel.

Creator/inventor of the tan, the little black dress, the double C, quilted bags, female tailoring, jersey… need I continue? The woman responsible for everything you love about fashion, clothes and style- she is God. There is little about this woman that hasn’t already been said and so I would like to take this moment to draw your attention to my personal favorite aspects of her legacy, the things I would like to thank her for.

Vanity Fair on Coco Chanel circa 1931
Vanity Fair on Coco Chanel circa 1931


The Little Black Dress (LBD)
The Little Black Dress (LBD)

Number one, what I consider to be the most important aspect of female fashion; I am eternally grateful for the little black dress. Hailed as stemming from Chanel’s designs in the 20s, the little black dress is timeless with its classic cut and simple colour. The concept of such versatility has Chanel stamped all over it, famed for teaming fashion and function, she conceived of a dress that could be dressed up, dressed down and rendered suitable for any occasion. Women around the world thank Chanel every time they receive a last minute invitation, have a dress mishap on their way out of the door or simply hate what they had planned to wear; the LBD sits in the wardrobe like a quiet superhero, ready to save the day.

Secondly: the tan. Although it is true that Chanel did not invent the tan as such (she was not the first to discover that sun exposure darkens the skin) but she was the first to make it fashionable. Previously a mark of low social standing, presumed to be acquired while working in fields, Chanel brought the tan from rags to riches, lounging on boats with her man-friends she discovered the one accessory that would never really go out of fashion, the healthy glow of sun-kissed skin.

Alexander Wang draped jersey dress
Alexander Wang draped jersey dress (photo credit: shopbop.cpm)

And finally, I would like to make special mention of Chanel’s innovative use of fabric, she is known for her quilting and her penchant for tweed but her first real foray with exciting fabrics was a lot more low-key, with jersey. Only ever previously used for under-garments, Chanel used jersey to create not only a soft silhouette but also truly comfortable clothing and she revolutionized the way the material is used. It is thanks to Chanel that I sit here in my jersey t-shirt, that Jean-Paul Gautier can send a black jersey jumper down a catwalk and why Alexander Wang can charge SO much for a jersey drape dress.

In short, three of my favorite things in the world I owe to one woman and that woman is Chanel, yes she is a French cliché but when you look beneath the reputation, she’s actually a bloody clever lady and she deserves to be remembered as such. The world of fashion owes more to her that it would care to admit and so do you.

{All Images have been credited}

About the Author:

Darcy Nicholson is officially now (as deemed by Marie Claire) a ‘par-don’, living the glamorous life of a Londoner in Paris; from this perspective she comments on the life and times of French fashion, the legend and the reality. She suffers through shops, bars and the streets inbetween to bring you the news on what is really a la mode.