EARLY YEARS 1883–1919

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Humble Beginnings

Gabrielle Chanel was born in the French town of Saumur in the Loire valley on August 19, 1883. She was sent to live in an orphanage at the age of 12 run by the sisters of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Mary. In 1900 Chanel moved to Moulin, a garrison town where her grandparents live. She would attend a local convent school with her aunt Adrienne and learn how to sew.

By 1910, Boy Capel would advance Chanel money to enable her to rent commercial premises on the rue Cambon, center of the already well-established couture industry. The years 1911 and 1912 were to be good ones for Chanel. Chanel Modes received enthusiastic reviews in magazines, with illustrations of Chanel’s models being worn by favorite actress of the day. Due to her success, Chanel would later open up two more boutiques in the resort towns of Deauville and Biarritz by 1915.

The years 1911 and 1912 were to be good ones for Chanel. Chanel Modes received enthusiastic reviews in magazines, with illustrations of Chanel's models being worn by favorite actress of the day. Due to her success, Chanel would later open up two more boutiques in the resort towns of Deauville and Biarritz.

Chanel's Use Of Jersey Fabrics

Chanel made knitted jersey a high fashion material. Although she was not the first and only couturiere to use this fabric, she was considered its greatest exponent, and by 1917 her business earned from Vogue the title of ‘The Jersey House’.