It’s nearly impossible to work in fashion—especially as a woman—and not be influenced in some way by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. Each member of the Fashion Unfiltered team has been impacted by the legendary designer’s work, legacy, words, and determination in one way or another, so here, on what would have been Chanel’s 133rd birthday, the FU editors share how Chanel has touched each of our lives. Happy Birthday, Coco, and thank you for inspiring women everywhere.
Katharine K. Zarrella, Editor-in-Chief and Founder
I’m a complete Coco Chanel fanatic. I have a wall in my living room dedicated to the designer, and my entire apartment, as well as the Fashion Unfiltered site and logo, were inspired by her signature elegant-yet-minimal aesthetic. Her wit, confidence, trailblazing career, and moxie have been a driving force in my personal and professional evolution since I was very young, but if I had to pick one thing about Chanel that truly tickles me, it’s the fact that she famously borrowed a tweed ensemble from her then-lover, the Duke of Westminster, to go salmon fishing at his estate in Scotland. I adore the black-and-white photographs of Chanel reclining in pearls or puffing on cigarettes, but the 1920s snap of her donning the Duke’s blazer, trousers, boots, and cardigan after a day of fishing with friend Vera Bate Lombardi is perhaps my favorite image of the singular icon.
Forget Alessandro Michele (well, no, don’t—I just bought those glorious Gucci zebra-striped pumps with the tail growing out the back and can’t wait to wear them), Chanel was the godmother of androgyny. But in both her own look and her designs, she explored it in a way that questioned gender and sexuality, but still championed feminine power. I am forever grateful to Mme. Chanel for helping to liberate women, both sartorially with her signature suits, and socially. Seriously, how many early 20th Century ladies can you think of that built an empire, revolutionized chic, had a spectacular string of love affairs, and never married? (One of my most beloved Chanel quotes is, “Men always remember a woman who caused them concern and uneasiness.” I try to live by it, for better or worse.)
Also, in case you were wondering, which you weren’t, but I’m going to tell you anyway, I named one of my rabbits, Mlle. Coco, after Chanel, because her fur is black, she’s fiercely independent, deeply sassy, and kind of a bitch in the best way possible. You can see her pictured below, posing in the house of Chanel’s faux pearls alongside a photograph of Chanel taken by Cecil Beaton in the 1960s. She scratched me about 15 times while we tried to capture this image. I imagine Chanel would have done the same.