Article about Coco Chanel from 1933

Posted September 5, 2012 by

When I have time I love to browse old newspapers for insight into times past. Here is a fascinating one that highlights how famous Chanel had become by the 1930's while mentioning her "peasant" original.

World's Dress Creators - Women Who Make the Fashions*

To most women In Australia the great Parisian dress designers of the world are nothing more than names seen on the satin labels attached to dresses, coats, and hats. Perhaps, it hardly occurs to us to wonder what sort of women are these, whose names are famous throughout the world Chanel, Vionnet, Lanvln, Schlaparelll, Agnes, and Jane Regny.

Some interesting glimpses of their methods and their private lives are given under the title, "Behind the Seams," by a writer in "The Queen." Chanel, it appears, is by origin a peasant from the hill country of France. She has just reached her forties, is slenderly built, with a small head, and uses no make-up. Starting as a milliner in one room, she now owns a castle in Normandy, a villa near Monte Carlo, where she never lives, and various other properties, which she does not use. Whatever she touches turns to gold. Yet, though she designs clothes for the best dressed women of the world, her own dally costume is a sweater, coat and skirt, and hat. At night she wears the un copyable simple black gowns which she has perfected, with a perfect ar- ray of jewels, all of fabulous price, Oriental and all coloured pearls at her neck, chains of precious stones in vivid colourings at her wrists. In working over a model she will make and destroy it fifty times, ripping, cutting, recutting, and slashing till the mannequin retreats m a garment that looks like a war-shredded banner. Few of her clients ever see her, for she works in the background, but her creations are sold at prices none but the rich can afford to pay. She likes boats, travel, solitude, and is absent from Paris for months on end salmon fishing in Scotland, where are the colour of the heather and the trees. She will have no successor; when she retires she says she will lock th,e door of her famous establishment and throw the key into the river Seine.

Works With a Doll.

Vionnet is another self-made woman who is proud of the fact that she started her career as a pin-picker, the first Job which used to be given to an apprentice, that of picking up pins from the dressmaking floor. She is modest, also, and seldom appears in her salons except to give advice when it seems imperative. Her method of creating Is different from others, for she works for hours cutting muslin dresses for a little wooden doll about two feet high-a sculptor's master- piece, she drapes the material on this tiny figure, pins and snips till It satisfies her, then throws the finished dress on the floor. Presently some- one comes In quietly and takes away the pile of little frocks to the work- rooms, where they are used to make the dresses that will please the fas- tidious society woman.

Family Life.

Jane Regny believes that a modern business woman need not sacrifice the normal functions of woman-mar- riage, motherhood, or social life-for her career. So hers Is an Intimate business, with Madame, Monsieur, Baby, and the dog all known to fav- oured clients. Her husband is In business with her, and she manages also to continue the social activities of her gay youth. Jane Regny started with simple sports sweaters, and gradually extended her field to its present wide range.

A Devoted Mother.

Having- started designing dresses when her daughter was a small child, Lanvin has won fame for her creations for women from 16 to 60. Throughout her life she has collected objects of beauty, which have en- abled her to have unusual sources upon which to draw for the designs for period gowns that are her specialty. Other world famous de- signers include Schiaparelli, an Italian; Peggy Morris, the English girl whose good taste is recognised throughout the world; and Mary Nowitsky, whose daring beach wear, lounge pyjamas, and lingeries are celebrated wherever well dressed women assemble for sports and pleasure.

Source: The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), Tuesday 14 November 1933, page 16

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