Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Man in the Glove

Chanel’s mastermind speaks out about his journey to the House and how Coco herself broke into the business

Coco Chanel as a young woman.
By Neera Gujral

As I walk around the crowded streets of Los Angeles, I see the iconic logo everywhere. Now, which logo may you ask? It is the inverted C trademark logo that takes hold to none other than Chanel, one of the most iconic brands. The house was first created by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. Gabrielle was born in 1883 in Saumur, France. At the age of only 12, her mother died of tuberculosis. After she died, Gabriella’s father left her and her 5 siblings, making them live in an orphanage. This is where the lovely Gabrielle learned to be a seamstress. In her free time, her relatives would teach her how to sew. 
When Coco was eighteen and unable to live in the orphanage anymore, she had to find work. She soon began working at a tailoring shop. Later on, Chanel began having an interest in hat making. When she became acquainted with a friend of an old boyfriend, he was able to fund her. In 1910, Coco opened her first hat shop. As time went on, she began getting more recognition. Then, in 1913, she started adding casual clothes and sportswear to her resumé. Her company had started to broaden, and by 1924 she was already creating perfumes. Her first one was the infamous and iconic Chanel number 5. Throughout her years as a designer, the Chanel name had certainly grown and became the famous name that it is today. Unfortunately, on January 10, 1971, Coco Chanel died of old age. A few other designers followed her footsteps as the creative director for Chanel before Karl Lagerfeld. 
A young Karl Lagerfeld relaxing
at the Beach.
Karl Lagerfeld, the current designer for Chanel, has created some of the iconic pieces of Chanel. Karl was first born in Hamburg, Germany, in approximately 1933.  In 1953, at the age of 20, Karl moved to Paris, France. In Paris, he worked as a draftsman for fashion houses. When he reached the age of 22, Karl obtained the position as an apprentice to the fashion designer Pierre Balmain. After three years of working there, he began work at Jean Patou, another fashion design house. There, he designed two haute couture collections a year for 5 years. At the beginning, his first collection was booed by critics, but the next one was thought of as a vast improvement. Karl Lagerfeld has come a long way since then. In 1983, Karl Lagerfeld became the chief designer for Chanel. Karl turned the whole company around. The hemlines were hiked up and over 40 boutiques were opened. Thanks to Karl Lagerfeld, he made Chanel a powerhouse of fashion. 
Karl Lagerfeld at the end of one 
of the Chanel fashion shows.
Karl Lagerfeld has had Baptiste Giabiconi as a muse for quite sometime now. When asked what his inspiration was, Karl responded with “I want to see the images with my imagination.” He was saying that he does not look for inspiration but he finds it within himself and he wants to be original. He also stated that he didn’t want to take somebody else’s idea. He late said “ I work with my instinct.” during the same interview. Karl Lagerfeld is known to have created so many beautiful pieces that have become a part of history. 
A lot of the words that Karl Lagerfeld has said are also inspirational. He often repeats that people should not look in the past, but live in the present. This is a good point, because many people hold onto the past and they regret many things or something that has happened to them that they can’t let go of. This advice is very helpful because it teaches people to just go for it and not live in what has already happened, but to live in what is happening in the moment. Another inspirational quote that Karl Lagerfeld said is “Don’t sacrifice yourself too much, because if you sacrifice too much there’s nothing else you can give and nobody will care for you." I think that this is good advice for anyone that wants to be in the fashion industry because it is basically saying that nobody should lose themselves in what they are doing. People should always stay true to who they are, and if they have lost themselves along the way, then they will never find their way back. 
Both Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld have helped shape Chanel as it is today. The extraordinary work that both of them have created is beautiful. Each piece is like taking a small bite of heaven. The well crafted genius work that they both formed is incredible to see. The clothes themselves are icons, and thanks to the glorious work of these designers, they have changed the way fashion is today. 

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