#BreakTheBias: Coco Chanel

Eloise – Year 7 Student

Editor’s note: This excellent essay was the Year 7 Winner in the GSAL International Women’s Day Essay Competition 2022, open to all students in Year 7-9. The challenge was to write a 150-250 word essay on one female trailblazer or change-maker from the past, outlining their accomplishments and explaining why they are seen to be significant. Having been shortlisted, the essay was then read and reviewed anonymously by the school Principal who noted, “This is a very good overview of Coco Chanel’s life and I like the use of quotes. I would have loved you to have written more – a very sudden shift from orphan to designer, and I wanted to know more about how and why – so interesting.” Eloise wins a small prize in recognition of this excellent achievement. CPD

Coco Chanel was a French fashion designer and business woman. She was credited after the World War One era with popularizing sports casual as the feminine style replacing the usual corseted silhouette that was the standard beforehand. She had a big imagination and always thought outside the box when it came to fashion and always found ways to achieve things. This led her to become an excellent entrepreneur.

Some of my favourite quotes and ‘life lessons’ she taught were:

  • Have the power to dream big
  • Experimenting is the key
  • Think beyond
  • Keep a problem solving approach

At the age of 12 she was sent to live at an orphanage when her mother died of bronchitis and her brothers went to live on a farm. She introduced women’s trousers and women’s suits then launched the first designer perfume. Chanel stepped into the world of fashion by making hats which then led onto bigger things like trousers, perfume and dresses. Chanel had a bitter personality and seized every opportunity to criticize her successors. One of the examples of her being bitter is when she accused Christian Dior of making women dress like armchairs. Another one is when she said that she admired Balenciaga’s designs but questioned whether he has the ability to cut.

Coco Chanel was born on the 19th August 1883 and died on the 10th January 1971. Her work was extraordinary, and she will never be forgotten.

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