Get to know the lady behind the oversized Chanel sunglasses and the bright red lipstick.

1906, Vichy

There’s nothing else for it. I have to return to Moulins when the season is over. I will not collect another glass. I came here to make a name for myself- make it big- Coco Chanel in lights. My voice was always considered to be strong at La Rotonde, why not here? They’ve acknowledged that I’m charming, and pretty. But no one has commended my voice.

Fine.

I may not be a stage performer, but I am certainly no glass collector either.

1908, Etienne Balsan

More pearls.

I like pearls- but I don’t want any more of them. Etienne knows what I want, and he can give it to me but he chooses not to. He’s a nice man, kind. But then again most men are kind to their mistresses. Since moving to Paris, ‘Boy’ Capel has really caught my eye. It’s naughty I know, what with him being friends with Etienne. It’s the boredom I think. I asked Etienne if he would help me to set up my own hat shop. I’m already making loads of my hat models and designs for the ladies of Paris so why shouldn’t I have my own boutique? He said no of course. Tried to fob me off with this apartment. It’s done nothing but make me more restless. As soon as you set foot on a yacht you belong to some man, not to yourself, and you die of boredom.

Hopefully I will see the ‘Boy,’ again soon.

1913, Deauville

I’ve done it. I’ve open my own boutique. I can’t quite believe I wasted so much of my time simply designing hats. Just look at what I can do. No woman should be confined to a corset and remain under the control of a man. Capel knows he doesn’t own me. I’m grateful for his investment but I run my own boutique. This is just the start. Chanel dresses, Chanel Sunglasses, Chanel suits- Chanel everywhere. But I must remember that luxury must be comfortable otherwise it is not luxury. I think a lot of designers could learn from this.

1920, The strapped bag

I can’t explain why but I’ve become extremely envious of soldiers and their bags. Tell me, why are men allowed to carry bags with a strap but women are not? Yes a clutch bag is dainty and feminine but it’s far from practical. Times are changing. If women want to carry their bag over their shoulder then they can. I’m not stopping them.

1921, No.5

I love designing clothes but I fancied a new challenge. When I met Beaux I hoped he would take on the challenge of creating a perfume that captured the scent of ‘the new woman.’ I’m so glad that he did. I’m 100% sure that everyone will love it. A women who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.

1926, LBD

I’m blinking in disbelief. That’s it right there- one of my very own creations on the front cover of Vogue. It’s so simple I don’t understand why it had never been thought of before. A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous. Thankfully now every woman can look just as good as me- especially as the LBD is a basic wardrobe staple. Vogue even said so.

1930, Schiaperelli

Apparently I am out of touch. I’m no Elsa Schiaperelli. I’d be lying if I said that her designs don’t have me worried. Fashion is made to become unfashionable. She’s certainly captured the hearts of youth. I’m just praying that the more sophisticated women remain my supporters. I guess we’ll find out when I release my new collection.

1939, War

Now is not the time for fashion. I think that much is clear.When was war ever the time for anything? I’ve closed many of my stores- there’s no point in keeping them open at a time like this. I’m not sure where I’m going to go, but I’ve heard that The Ritz is great this time of year!

Note to the reader.

Coco Chanel disappeared from the fashion scene hidden behind her Chanel Glasses. Disgraced by her affair with a Nazi officer, she was exiled to Switzerland where she kept a low profile for over 15 years.

Click here to find out more about Chanel’s comeback, which was inspired by Christian Dior and a hatred of long pleated skirts.

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