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Clothing: Fashion: The Grand French Haute Couture Houses:

1. Chanel Haute Couture (founded in 1915)

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1. Chanel Haute Couture (founded in 1915)


There is no more legendary person in the world of fashion than Coco Chanel (1883- 1971). Her life has not only been the subject of numerous biographies, but also of a musical. Immortalized on Broadway in Alan Jay Lerner's musical 'Coco', the lead role was played by Katherine Hepburn with costumes created by Cecil Beaton. The first modern couturière of the twentieth century, founded her couture house in 1915. Among her early clients were Baroness Rothschild who had previously been with Poiret, the "arbiter of elegance of the period". Worth might have invented haute couture, but it was Paul Poiret who finally freed women from corsets and hoop skirts. After a quarrel with Poiret, Rothschild bestowed her custom on Chanel, bringing a number of friends in her wake. In 1926 Chanel made the "little black dress" famous. Her signature colours were and still are white, black and gold. In 1928, Chanel creates her first tweed suit, which was inspired by visits to Scotland with the Duke of Westminster with whom she was befriended. And the tweed Chanel costume with its famous gold buttons has become a classic in today's fashion 

© Chanel Haute Couture Autumn-Winter 2000/1
© Photo by Karl Lagerfeld
world ever since its creation over 70 years ago. It was in 1921 that Chanel moved into Chanel's current premises - No. 31 rue Cambon in Paris. 

At the height of her fame in 1935 Chanel employed 4,000 workers and sold 28,000 models world-wide every year. Chanel moved in elegant circles in Paris. In fact, she was at the centre of society in pre-war Paris and knew Picasso, Cocteau and Strawinsky. Among her lovers were Russian Grand Duke Prince Dimitri Pavlovich, a cousin of Tsar Nicholas II, and the Duke of Westminster, the richest man in England at the time and cousin of King Edward VII. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Mrs. Gordon Getty loved wearing Chanel costumes. Other customers included Greta Garbo, Marlène Dietrich, Romy Schneider, Princess Grace of Monaco, the Duchess of Windsor, the Duchess of Bedford, Lauren Bacall, Jeanne Moreau and Francoise Sagan.
 


© Chanel Haute Couture Autumn-Winter 2000/1
© Photo by Karl Lagerfeld
Current Hamburg-born maestro Karl Lagerfeld (born in 1939) was appointed by Chanel in 1983. In 1956, at the age of 18, Lagerfeld had been hired by Pierre Balmain. In 1958 Lagerfeld joined Jean Patou as artistic director and stayed with the house until 1964. Between 1965 and 1967 Lagerfeld first worked freelance and then joined Fendi as a consultant designer. It was Lagerfeld who revived the house in 1983 and kept the style of Chanel - elegance and sophisticated simplicity. Lagerfeld's fashions owe their styles to a classic modern concept: clear lines, openly geometric patterns and an irresistible simplicity. 'Le style Chanel' was embodied by Inès de la Fressange, the model of choice, in the 1980s. Lagerfeld compatriot Claudia Schiffer then became the Chanel girl of the 1990s. Chanel's haute couture outfits are made exclusively in the workrooms of the rue Cambon. Chanel now occupies several buildings: No. 27, No. 29 and No. 31, which house a total of 300 employees. The Haute Couture models are shown to customers on the first floor of No.31 rue Cambon. 

Address for Haute Couture Clients (by appointment only): Chanel, 31 rue Cambon, 75001 Paris, France, Phone: 0033-1-42.86.28.00, Website: www.chanel.com

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