Celebrate Fashion Icon Coco Chanel’s Birthday With 8 of Her Best Life Lessons

Coco Chanel.
Photo: via Flickr/ @hto2008.

Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, better known as Coco Chanel, the legendary designer and pioneer of modern women’s fashion was born this day 132 years ago in 1883.

Chanel’s story is one of the classic rags-to-riches tale. As a young girl, she was sent to a Catholic orphanage after her mother died and it was there that she learned to become a seamstress.

The designer started her own company in 1909, championing a relaxed sense of style using fabrics and cuts uncommon for women to sport. She invented the little black dress, the tricot sailor shirt as a staple, the concept of a designer fragrance, the Chanel suit, and also popularized pearls and slacks for women.

Evermore popular today, in part thanks to Karl Lagerfeld, who has kept her torch burning, the Chanel brand remains a significant fixture in fashion headlines—photographer Sam Taylor-Johnson did a series of photos in her famed Paris apartment and a portrait of Chanel was recently sold at auction that was purportedly by Pop artist Andy Warhol though critics were doubtful about its authenticity.

Here are eight life lessons by the headstrong Mademoiselle Chanel:

1. On being memorable:
“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”

2. On the concept of luxury:
“Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.”

3. On aging:
“Nature gives you the face you have at twenty. Life shapes the face you have at thirty. But at fifty you get the face you deserve.”

4. On what other people think:
“I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t think about you at all.”

5. On style:
“Fashion changes, but style endures.”

6. On men:
“As long as you know men are like children, you know everything!”

7. On fashion:
“Fashion is architecture: It is a matter of proportions.”

8. On how to deal with difficult situations:
“Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.”

Andy Warhold Chanel lithograph.

Andy Warhold Chanel lithograph. 
Photo: via Wikiart.

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