Chanel needs almost no introduction. The name is known. Considered by many the most influential designer of the twentieth century, Coco Chanel created the brand in the early 1900s when she emerged from a poverty-striken childhood to create haute couture for the women of France. She aimed to create styles for women that allowed freedom of movement and shunned ostentation. Arguably, she invented the “little black dress,” and felt that women should be able to wear this dress from day to evening. She learned to sew in the convent where she grew up (after being orphaned), and was a stickler for perfection.
Coco Chanel was a brilliant business woman; Picasso called her, “the woman with the most sense in Europe.” She called the shots and was brazen and independent- when she grew tired of carrying her clutch, she attached a chain to carry it over her shoulder. Today the brand is still privately-owned, which is extremely rare for a luxury brand. Karl Lagerfield is the head of design now, and he continues the tradition of chic and impeccably made fashion.