When was Gabrielle Chanel successfully known as a fashion designer? Taking you back to 1915, in Biarritz, Gabrielle Chanel achieved her most important victory, to prove that she was not only a talented designer but also an accomplished businesswoman capable of creating a true fashion and luxury couture house, as well as attaining financial independence.
Two years after opening a boutique in Deauville, the designer fell upon Biarritz and the Atlantic coast, a region favoured by the Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon. After being encouraged by Boy Capel – the Polo player who became the love of her life – to grow her business by hiring more seamstresses, she decided to open her couture house at the 19th century Villa Larralde, as a strategic place near the beach and the casino. It was a bold move, but thanks to Gabrielle’s talent and reputation, the world’s élégantes flocked to her and the press sang her praises. The new boutique was an immediate success.
By 1918, in Paris, Deauville, and Biarritz, Chanel employed three hundred workers, all women. As the war (World War I 1914-1918) concluded, the world found itself once more in complete mutation: on the Basque coast, Gabrielle frequented Russian and Spanish aristocrats, and discovered other cultures, drawing from them the inspiration that would shape the Chanel style.
In Biarritz, Gabrielle Chanel proved that she owed her success to no one but herself, and found her true nature: fashion designer and businesswoman. She was more determined than ever to liberate women, to allow them to dance and swim, to soak in the sun, to love, to dare, to be themselves, unconstrained by clothing or the opinions of others. The discovery and installation of her couture house in Biarritz was a turning point: nothing would stop Gabrielle Chanel on the path to success.
Step by step, with the successful launch in 1921 of her perfume N°5, followed in 1926 by her little black dress, she established her couture house as an icon of luxury. Her reputation spread far and wide, her designs highly sought by Americans and Europeans alike. Gabrielle Chanel had become what she had chosen to be: a free and independent woman!