The House of Chanel (Chanel S.A.) was a fashion house founded in 1910 by Gabrielle Chanel. Affectionately known as ‘Coco’, Chanel began by selling hats to her friends in order earn a living independent of her financial sponsor, or whom she was a mistress.
A designer and businesswoman, she was both talented and resourceful. Despite the mobilization of women and scarcity of designer-fabrics brought on by World War 1, Chanel designed dresses and other clothing that by 1915 were known throughout France. By 1920, she had designed beaded dresses that were made popular by Flapper women, and by 1922 had released what would later become her top selling perfume of all time.
The Legacy of Perfume No. 5
After commissioning perfumer Ernest Beaux in 1921, Ernest presented 10 samples to Coco. Numbered 1 through 5 and 20 through 24, Chanel chose 2 perfumes which she considered suitable for her debut perfume launch. No.5 and No.22 were her personal favorites and were consequently the winners.
Despite the popularity of perfume No. 5, French occupation during World War 2 stunted the growth of Chanel’s business until her return to France in 1953. She continued to design until her death in 1971 and perfume No.5 remains a best-selling product.
The Legacy Karl Lagerfeld who is the current designer of Chanel S.A. has turned the company into an even bigger, more profitable business while maintaining the creative, innovative and independent style of Gabrielle Chanel.
“I want to give women an artificial perfume. Yes, I really do mean artificial, like a dress, something that has been made. I don’t want any rose or lily of the valley, I want a perfume that is a composition.”
– Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel.
Today Chanel has over 55 fragrances on the market.
Chanel S.A. has approximately 310 Chanel boutiques worldwide nearly half of them operating in North America. Other locations from highest to lowest include around 94 in Asia, 70 in Europe, 10 in the Middle East, and 2 in South America.