Was Coco Chanel a bitchy lady boss?
"Fashion is not an art, it is a job" Coco Chanel
The lady-boss of the House of Chanel:
Did you know that Coco Chanel was not only very different from most designers, but that she also worked very differently? She did not design on paper and did not have a sketch book. Unlike her successor, Karl Lagerfeld, who designed ALWAYS on paper.
When Coco Chanel started her fashion house, she actually had very little couture sewing techniques. She had taught herself almost everything herself and worked mainly from her feeling and instinct. She had a great sense of how fabrics could be draped around the female body.
Nice lady or a demanding lady-boss?
When she founded her Fashion House and became more and more successful she got assistants and employees. She passed on her instructions verbally and came across as compelling and very demanding. Her models were also not always happy with the job, they sometimes had to stand for hours until Mrs. Chanel was satisfied. (and she was not easy to please)
Coco Chanel is often associated as an unkind woman who only went straight for her goal and used people to be successful.
In the movie "Coco before Chanel", we learn a lot how Gabrielle started her career in the fashion world. She knows how to move up through stubbornness and opportunism. She knows how to enter the world of the chic ladies through a big (rich) friend. This friend later became her big sponsor and he owes her success largely.
But let's take a closer look at everything.
Coco Chanel was a passionate woman who had a goal in mind. Her dream was unusual for the time. She did not want to get married and have children, but started a business and influence the world of the rich and the famous. There would be nothing wrong with that today. People would admire her and knows what it takes to work day and night at a goal in life.
There were few women at the time who chose careers, who could take the opportunity to build this up and persisted at all.
If Gabrielle had lived in our time, her 'character' might have looked or judged very different.
Coco Chanel would have Social Media to create influence, she could probably found money or sponsors in other ways and maybe she would have been a great candidate for Dragons' Den.
It is bad to be unkind, opportunistic and driven? Not at all. Coco Chanel got her success and she earned it by working hard and having creative and completely new ideas about Fashion, exactly in the right time when women needed something new and inspiring.
Anyway, we wish Coco Chanel, still retroactively, its success. And whether she was unkind or not, she has created a Fashion label that still matters. Perhaps she would never have succeeded if she hadn't had her 'bitchy' qualities.
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