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Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel was born in 1883 in Saumur, France to a modest family. In 1910, she opened her first shop in Paris, Chanel Modes, where she made hats. After her hats became a favorite of Gabrielle Dorziat, one of France’s most famous actresses, the business took off. Chanel struck gold again in 1913 when she opened a boutique in Deaville and introduced women’s sportswear. The clothing empowered women in a way unlike anything that came before it and proved to be an immediate success. Now that she had established herself over five years of outfitting the women of France in popular items, Chanel opened her first couture house in 1915.

While Chanel has made several iconic products over its century-plus history, its single most popular item is its first fragrance: Chanel No. 5, released in 1921. The perfume was created by Ernest Beaux and it was the fifth scent presented to Gabrielle Chanel, hence the name. Nearly one hundred years later, Chanel No. 5 remains one of the best selling women’s fragrances in the world. Just five years later, Chanel would create another icon: the “little black dress.” At a time when dresses were loud and colorful, the subtlety of the little black dress seemed like an act of rebellion. The dress was intended to appeal to the widest market possible and it achieved exactly that, garnering comparisons to Ford’s iconic Model T.

It wasn’t until 1978 that Chanel would launch its ready-to-wear collection and begin to distribute its accessories worldwide. In 1983, 12 years after Gabrielle Chanel’s death, Karl Lagerfeld was named creative director. Under Lagerfeld, the brand expanded its offerings to include sneakers, sunglasses and a wider variety of bags.

After Lagerfeld died in 2019, Chanel studio director and Lagerfeld’s understudy Virginie Viard took his place as creative director. It is under her that the legacy of one of fashion’s most influential houses continues to thrive.

Where does Chanel get its name from?
The brand is named after the founder Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel.

When was Chanel founded?
Chanel was founded in 1910.

Where are Chanel bags made?
Chanel bags are made in either France or Italy.

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