Chanel S.A. (/ʃəˈnɛl/; ) is the French house of high fashion that specializes in haute couture and ready-to-wear clothes, luxury goods, and fashion accessories. In her youth, the couturière Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel gained the soubriquet “Coco” while a chanteuse de café in provincial France. As a fashion designer, Coco Chanel catered to women’s taste for elegance in dress, with blouses and suits, trousers and dresses, and jewellry (gemstone and bijouterie) of simple design, that replaced the opulent, over-designed, and constrictive clothes and accessories of 19th-century fashion. Historically, the House of Chanel is most famous for the stylistically versatile “little black dress”, the perfume No. 5 de Chanel and the Chanel Suit.

As a business enterprise, Chanel S.A. is a privately held company owned by Alain Wertheimer and Gerard Wertheimer, grandsons of Pierre Wertheimer, an early business partner of Coco Chanel. Commercially, the brands of the House of Chanel have been personified by fashion models and actresses, by women such as Inès de la Fressange, Catherine Deneuve, Carole Bouquet, Vanessa Paradis, Nicole Kidman, Anna Mouglalis, Lucía Hiriart, Audrey Tautou, Keira Knightley and Marilyn Monroe, who epitomise the independent, self-confident Chanel Girl.

Chanel's use of jersey fabric produced garments that were comfortable and affordable. Chanel revolutionized fashion — high (haute couture) and everyday (prêt-à-porter) — by replacing structured-silhouettes, based upon the corset and the bodice, with garments that were functional and flattering to the woman’s figure.

In the 1920s, the simple-line designs of Chanel couture made popular the “flat-chested” fashions that were the opposite of the hourglass-figure achieved by the fashions of the late 19th century — the Belle Époque of France (ca. 1890–1914), and the British Edwardian Era (ca. 1901–1919). Beyond comfort, Chanel's clothes applied the suppleness of to allow the woman an active style of life. Colour-wise, Chanel used traditionally masculine colours, such as grey and navy blue, to connote boldness of character.

The clothes of the House of Chanel featured quilted fabric and leather trimmings; the quilted construction reinforces the fabric, the design and the finish, producing a garment that maintains its form and function while being worn. The notable example of such haute couture techniques is the woolen Chanel Suit — a knee-length skirt and a cardigan-style jacket, trimmed and decorated with black embroidery and gold-coloured buttons. The complementary accessories were two-tone pump shoes and jewellry (gemstone and bijouterie), usually a necklace of pearls, and a leather handbag.

The great financial, commercial, and cultural successes of perfume No. 5 increased public recognition of the House of Chanel, desire for its haute couture designs, demand for its prêt-à-porter clothes, and enhanced the artistic reputation of the couturière Coco Chanel; and, in lean times, perfume kept Chanel solvent.

In September 2012 a Paris court overturned a 2009 ruling and fined Chanel, saying the house had designed a vest that was a "slavish copy" of a crochet design by the local knitwear company, World Tricot.

Read more about Chanel:  The Shops, The Chanel Girl

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Famous quotes containing the word chanel:

    The hat is not for the street: it will never be democratized. But there are certain houses that one cannot enter without a hat. And one must always wear a hat when lunching with people whom one does not know well. One appears to one’s best advantage.
    —Coco Chanel (1883–1971)

    There have been several Duchesses of Westminster—but there is only one Chanel!
    —Coco Chanel (1883–1971)

    Why am I so determined to put the shoulder where it belongs? Women have very round shoulders that push forward slightly; this touches me and I say: “One must not hide that!” Then someone tells you: “The shoulder is on the back.” I’ve never seen women with shoulders on their backs.
    —Coco Chanel (1883–1971)