It goes without saying that Chanel is one of the most highly recognisable and universally beloved fashion brands in the world. But like any intriguing story, there gave been plenty of things happening behind the scenes that most of us have never heard about.
The success of Chanel, of course, is largely built on the genius of its creator, Coco Chanel—but her creative mind was only part of the story. Keep scrolling to learn 11 surprising facts you never knew about Chanel!
After she launched the perfume in 1921, it swiftly became one of the most iconic and instantly recognizable fragrances ever. It was the first perfume to secure ad time during the Super Bowl, and Andy Warhol even immortalized it in his work. And according to data gathered in 2014, it’s officially the best-selling fragrance of all time.
In 1994, a makeup artist backstage at the Chanel show in Paris was pressed for time before a photo shoot when she realized the models’ fingernails were all bare. She quickly painted them with a black marker, then later asked that the resulting shade be replicated with actual varnish. Enter Chanel’s Rouge Noir color, which became the first polish ever to sell out and have a waiting list.
Coco Chanel is often credited with putting women in pants, and she was also the first designer to envision women wearing suits—an article of clothing previously only worn by men. She truly revolutionised women’s fashion, which up until that time consisted mainly of binding corsets, oversized skirts, and ultra-feminine detailing.
In 1926, Vogue published a photo of a black dress from Chanel’s most recent collection and referred to it as “Chanel’s Ford,” a reference to the ubiquitous American cars. Many fashion historians regard this as the birth of what we know call the LBD.
Before her namesake brand became instantly recognizable the world over, Coco Chanel built her reputation in Paris on the extremely high quality of her hats. Known as Chanel Modes, these toppers took Paris by storm, and every chic society woman clamoured to get her hands on one.
At this stage, the two-tone shoe is considered a staple piece of every Chanel woman’s wardrobe. But before 1957, the shoe style didn’t exist. Coco Chanel worked closely with cobbler Monsieur Massaro to produce the now-iconic shoes, which were designed with two intentions: to make women’s feet appear daintier and to make their legs appear longer.
The brand’s iconic bag may seem oddly named, but in fact it earned its nomenclature from the month and year it was released: February 1955.
In what is perhaps the ultimate sign of the times Coco Chanel lived in, she never possessed full ownership over her namesake company. Her business partner, Pierre Wertheimer, only afforded her 10% of the company holdings from the beginning; after some time, her share was increased, but she was never in full possession of the company. Now, the brand is 100% owned by Alain and Gerard Wertheimer, who are descendants of Pierre.
Chanel's 2.55 bag is unique in the accessories world in that it truly gets more valuable (and expensive) with each passing year. Because the item is in increasing demand, Chanel is able to raise the price on the coveted accessory; if you want one, we suggest you don’t wait! It will only get pricier.
What do you think is the most surprising fact about Chanel? Tell us below!