Gabrielle Chanel opens her first shop at 21 rue Cambon in Paris in 1913 following in the footsteps of fellow French milliner and fashion designer Caroline Redoux. Creating hats under the name ''Chanel Modes''. Favored by the most famous french actress of the time, her designs help to establish her reputation. Gabrielle Chanel's simple, elegant style of dress creates a sensation, and is soon imitated by all of Paris.
The House of Chanel first opened its doors in 1909 as a millinery. It was here that Coco plied her trade to the fashion-conscious modern mistresses of the French hunting and sporting élite, as well as to friends of her socialite and textile businessman lover, Étienne Balsan. Coco quickly gained a reputation for her exquisite and beautifully decorated hats attracting the attention of another socialite, the English polo player Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel.
Coco ultimately became his mistress and upon noticing her business acumen, he financed her first independent shop in 1910; Chanel Modes at 21 rue Cambon, Paris. The lease limited Coco to millinery rather than couture, so it wasn’t until 1913 when she opened stores in Deauville and Biarritz where she was able to offer ready to wear sports clothes for women, that the Chanel couture brand was truly born.
Coco soon became friendly with some of the most creative visionaries of the time including Diaghilev, Picasso, Stravinsky and Cocteau. With these historic peers, she shared a desire to break the pre-conceived moulds of the time and constantly strived to create new ways of expressing herself through inspirational fashion designs. Cocteau is even on record for saying “she has, by a kind of miracle, worked in fashion according to rules that would seem to have value only for painters, musicians, poets.”
Chanel remains one of the most sought after brands in fashion history due to Lagerfeld's ability to remain true to the allure of the independent woman that was the foundation of the brand, while infusing an unpredictability that makes each show and collection unique.