Coco Chanel: Queen of Fashion


By: Nathan Chandler

4 Min Quiz

Image: youtube

About This Quiz

It's a rags-to-riches story that seems too crazy to be true. Coco Chanel ascended from wretched poverty to extreme wealth, and in doing so, she became one of the best-known women of the 20th century. How much do you know about Chanel and her adventures?

Coco Chanel is mostly remembered for her contributions to what?

Chanel became an icon in the world of women's fashion. She upended many fashion stereotypes and charted a new course for clothing.


Coco was her actual first name.

"Coco" was just a nickname that stuck. Her given name was Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel.


Chanel became one of the most important women ever in fashion. Where was she born?

She was born into a poor family in France and wound up in a convent. It's safe to say that she was never meant for a quiet, religious life.


Why did Chanel wind up at an orphanage run by nuns?

When Chanel was 12, her mother died and her father wanted nothing to do with raising a bunch of kids alone. She was sent to an orphanage.


Chanel left the convent life to take up which pursuit?

Chanel wanted more than a simple religious life at a convent. She headed to the town of Moulins and became a cabaret singer for a short time.


Before she ditched the convent, what skill did Chanel learn?

Her time at the convent taught her some self-discipline … and also how to sew. Her sewing skills, of course, came in very handy later in her life.


Chanel tried her hand as a cabaret singer. What was her voice like?

She was young and cute … but she had a very average voice. Eventually, she realized that she was never going to make it as a singer, so she moved on to other goals.


After failing at singing, what path did Chanel chart?

She became a mistress for a wealthy textile heir named Etienne Balsan. Balsan introduced her to the finer things in life and Chanel became accustomed to hanging out with wealthy, powerful people.


Chanel embraced life as a mistress. What happened in 1908?

She took up with Arthur Capel, who was a friend of Etienne Balsan. The two men competed for Chanel's affections.


During her time with Balsan, Chanel became a licensed milliner, which is what?

Chanel began making hats for fun, but the hobby blossomed into a real business. She became a licensed milliner, or hat maker, and began hawking her products in 1910.


Chanel wanted to marry Arthur Capel.

Chanel was hoping that eventually, Capel would want to marry her. But as it turns out, the mistress lifestyle doesn't work that way. Capel died in a car accident in 1919 and Chanel was never really the same.


How did Chanel get her first big break in the fashion industry?

An actress named Gabrielle Dorziat wore one of Chanel's hats as part of a play. The exposure helped give Chanel credibility in the fashion world.


In 1913, what did Arthur Capel do to help Chanel's career?

Capel helped Chanel by paying for a store where she could sell her fashion products. Located in a ritzy part of town, the shop soon found success.


By 1919, Chanel was so successful that she was able to do what?

She reinvested her profits in a building in the middle of Paris. The expansion helped to grow her business by leaps and bounds.


In 1920, Chanel befriended which artist?

She met the famous composer Igor Stravinsky, who'd left the U.S.S.R. following World War I. Chanel let his family stay in one of her houses, and she began designing costumes for some of his productions.


Chanel became one of the best-known women in fashion. What was her personality like?

Coco was no wilting flower. She was a rebel with a quick wit and enduring sense of sarcasm.


After World War I, Chanel gained renown for using which material in her fashion?

She began using a type of jersey fabric, which was used mostly for underwear and eschewed by most fashion designers. Chanel's decision to use jersey helped her stand out in a crowded field.


Chanel designed many of her clothes with what in mind?

Many of her designs cast off restrictive influences and materials and emphasized comfort and simple visual appeal. The idea caught on in a hurry.


Chanel once claimed that she could dress every woman in which color?

She became renowned for the famous "little black dress" concept. Her simple but flattering black dresses ignited a revolution that's still active today.


During her life, Chanel became addicted to which drug?

Chanel had a weakness for morphine. She took to injecting the drug and the habit stuck with her for much of her life.


How did Chanel affect trends in women's hair?

She arrived at an opera house with very short and boyish hair. Ever the trendsetter, the style caught on, meaning long hair was no longer the required look for women.


In 1921, Chanel introduced her iconic perfume. What was it called?

Coco's Chanel No. 5 became -- and still is -- one of the world's best-selling fragrances. She picked "5" because she figured it was her lucky number.


Chanel's dresses exposed which part of the female anatomy?

She wasn't exactly obsessed with nudity or anything … but her dresses revealed women's ankles, which had for many years been hidden under long Victorian clothing.


She hung out with extremely rich people who could afford anything. How did Chanel feel about costume jewelry?

Even though her rich lovers gave her many real gems, Coco often enjoyed the concept of costume jewelry. When she created jewelry, her designs sometimes used both real and fake gems.


What was unique about Chanel No. 5?

Chanel got bolder with her successes. She named the perfume after herself. It was the first fragrance ever named after its creator.


What did Chanel do when the Nazis invaded Paris during World War II?

Her life took a dark turn when she started an affair with a Nazi officer, and she closed her shop. She's even been accused of spying for the Germans.


Chanel was OK with anti-Semitism.

Not only did she take up with a Nazi officer, Chanel was onboard with the Germans' anti-Jew message. She eventually met and dined with some of the most notorious Nazi leaders, such as Joseph Goebbels.


What happened to Chanel after the liberation of Paris?

Allied forces arrested the traitorous Chanel for her dalliances with Nazis. In retrospect, some historians believe that Chanel may actually have been working behind the scenes to undermine the Nazis, but no one is entirely sure of this.


Chanel lived until the ripe old age of 87. How did she die?

In 1971 Chanel returned to her home at the Hotel Ritz, went to bed and then died of natural causes. She was buried in Switzerland.


What were Chanel's last words?

At the end of her long and full life, Chanel was ready to go. "You see, this is how you die."


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