There were so many inspiring women around in the 1920s, but one of my favourites has to be Coco Chanel. We all know she originated that staple item of every women’s wardrobe, the little black dress, and thanks to the recent movie Coco avant Chanel, most of the world is now aware that she rose from very humble origins to fame and wealth, the epitome of what women could achieve in this brave new world.
Her fashion innovations and independent spirit make her a woman to admire, but even more than that we women of the 20th and 21st centuries owe her a huge debt of gratitude.
Because Coco Chanel introduced the concept of comfort into women’s clothing. She designed clothing for that new generation of women, the Flappers, who chose to dress for themselves rather than to please society in general and men in particular. Flappers lived active lifestyles, dancing their nights away in jazz clubs and whiling away the days with tennis and golf, or trips to the beach. They needed easy to wear outfits that were still fashionable, and Coco provided these. Out with corsets and in with shift dresses.
She also introduced into women’s clothing the use of traditional men’s styles and fabrics such as wool and tweed. The flexibility of these fabrics gave women more freedom of movement. In everything she did, from the clothing she designed to the way she lived her life, Coco advocated women’s freedom, and I for one (sitting at my desk in trouser pants, thanks in part to her) am incredibly grateful.
The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.
– Coco Chanel