FASHION ICONS | 9 Coco Chanel Fact You Probably Never Knew

In honor of the iconic fashion designer’s 136th birthday, ARABIA 5AM looks back at Chane’s Legacy.

Coco Chanel’s impact on fashion is unparalleled – and her design legacy is just as relevant today, on what would have been her 136th birthday, as it was decades ago.

The legendary fashion designer’s canon of now-staples – the tweet suit, her No.5 fragrance and the little black dress – exemplify the elegant, modern style that she was known for one that was carried on by her successor Karl Lagerfeld, until his death earlier this year.

In honor of Chanel’s birthday – Aug.19, 1883 – ARABIA 5AM look backs at the designer’s legacy, unearthing some little-known facts about the iconic designer from our achieves.

Here are nine things you probably didn’t know about Coco Chanel:

1.She refused a marriage proposal from the Duke of Westminster

Chanel reportedly had a 10-year affair with the second Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor, during which time the Duke proposed marriage to the designer. Chanel refused, later stating: “There are lots of Duchesses, but only one Coco Chanel”.

2.She was routinely at odds with other fashion designers

Chanel’s influence on other designers was undeniable, especially to Coco herself. On Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel was quoted saying, “Saint Laurent has excellent taste. The more he copies me the better taste he displays”.

While they were previously close, Chanel and Cristobal Balenciaga also came to odds after the former reportedly called Balenciaga “too old” to continue designing.

Upon Chanel’s death Balenciaga reflected on their prior friendship and her passing, stating to the press her obituary: “I feel extremely sad it makes me feel how old I am myself. An extraordinary, strong and influential person has disappeared with her”.

3.She began her career as a hatmaker

In 1912, Chanel began her fashion design career by opening a hat shop in Deauville, a seaside town in France, where she quickly became a trendsetter and expand into apparel.

4.She refused to dress royalty

Chanel wasn’t one to design for free, even for royalty. WWD’s obituary on the designer quotes her saying, “these princesses and duchesses …they never pay their bills. Why should I give them something for nothing? No one ever gave me anything”.

5. She preferred women in makeup

When the atelier got word of Chanel’s arrival each day, models reportedly rushed to their makeup on quickly, as the designer was not a fan of makeup-less faces.

Chanel herself kept a blush at her bedside, explaining “Think of the man who sleeps beside you, does he want to wake up to a pale face?

6. She often made comments that raised eyebrows

No one to keep her thoughts to herself. Chanel was unabashed in her commentary of others. For instance, Chanel was quoted in WWD’s obituary saying actress Brigitte Bardot was “money mad” and that her full bust “is too much”.

Chanel was also critical of fashion editors, stating that one unnamed editor had “the face of a monkey” and “the mouth of a sewer”, and stating another editor was “the most pretentious woman I have ever met”.

7.She was no fan of miniskirts

Chanel had once called miniskirts “an exhibition of meat”, claiming she found the look to be indecent. She instead was a proponent of women wearing pants and was even arrested for wearing them by the Vichy Regime during the World War II.

Chanel found pants to be a practical option for women. “Girls are nice and it is good to roll around in the sand all day long”, she said. “On the beach it is very easy to slip on a pair of pants.

8. Her favorite flower was the camellia

The camellia flower has become one of the most iconic symbols of the Chanel brand, featured prominently in the apparel and accessories.

9.She was buried in her favorite Chanel suit

Per Chanel’s own request, media reported the designer was buried in her favorite suit, a beige and white tweet suit decorated with the designer’s iconic gold buttons and braid.

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