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Chanel Information

Synonymous with fashion and style, the house of Chanel was created more than 100 years ago by its founder, Coco Chanel. It began as a millinery (hat) shop in Paris in 1909, but today it is known for its ready to wear garments, haute couture, perfume, and many luxury goods such as handbags, jewellery and more.

The History of Chanel

If you want a capsule history of Chanel it could be simply that a woman of great taste built an empire around simplicity and style. The "LBD" or little black dress is the product of Chanel aesthetics, but so too is the signature fragrances No. 5 and the use of design and fabrics that offer their wearers comfort without sacrificing chic style.

Of course, that is over-simplifying the matter, and a true history has to look at the period when Coco Chanel arrived and chose a remarkably savvy location to sell her wares. It became a true "salon”, where the wives of the aristocracy came to purchase their hats. The terms of the lease prevented her from marketing clothing at the location, and so she soon relocated and began offering "off the rack" garments for women who wanted a more active lifestyle.

Before Chanel, the trend was for a woman to be heavily corseted and weighted down by the bulk of her garments. Once World War I ended, Chanel decided to eliminate this unhappy condition and began using lightweight materials and using much looser lines to give women freedom of movement and yet still retain their modesty and good taste.

Soon, the Chanel name was the most coveted in Europe, with buyers of every factory ensuring that their firm had such looks. The rise of the flapper era coincided perfectly with the Chanel style, and soon women were wearing what became known as the Chanel Suit for its uniform design and simple elegance. To coordinate with the garments produced in the firm, Coco Chanel also decided that a scent would be an important addition to the product line. She commissioned Ernest Beaux to create a signature scent, and of the samples sent, Chanel favoured #5, and that is the simple story of the perfume's name.

As time passed, more partners were added to the growing and globally recognized firm, and more designers and products appeared, too. The second World War caused major changes and eventually led to the sale of the perfume component of the company.

The changes in fashion in the 1950s and onward allowed the House of Chanel to also evolve and to even enjoy a resurgence as a major player in haute couture. After the death of Coco Chanel in the 1980s, more changes were made and the overall aesthetic of Chanel would begin to change too. They added sunglasses, watches, and regained their perfume component. By the 1990s, they were one of the most profitable ready to wear names in the world of fashion.

Today, people around the world know Chanel as a maker of jewellery, watches, handbags, fashion, perfume, cosmetics and skin care, and haute couture. They have storefront shops in major metropolitan areas, including Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South America, Oceania and North America.

Chanel fashion is seen in three ways in the current era - pret a porter or ready to wear, haute couture (runway), and "cruise" collections. Different designers have been in charge of creating the lines, and Karl Lagerfeld has been the driving vision behind Chanel since 2010.

The fashion lines include:

  • Small leather goods
  • Handbags
  • Shoes and boots
  • Costume jewellery
  • Eyewear
  • Belts
  • Scarves
  • Hats
  • Gloves
  • "Other" accessories
  • Camellias

They also create fine jewellery, as well, though this is not retailed in the same outlets as the costume jewellery pieces. The categories include rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and wedding/engagement jewellery.

As a brand that began in a modest hat shop in pre-WWI Paris, the Chanel brand has developed a global reputation for chic style and charm. Today, it has evolved its aesthetic and is no longer all about "ladylike" looks. Everyone wears Chanel, from punk rock princesses to billionaire divas, and thanks to its smart expansion into the ready to wear and fashion markets, almost everyone can purchase goods with the familiar and famous logo.

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