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Inside Chanel: a glimpse into the life of a young Coco Chanel

A new video series from Chanel offers a glimpse into the life of a young Coco Chanel.

Coco Chanel was said to be inspired by many things. Among them, a few special destinations are highlighted through a new series of video campaigns from the eponymous fashion house. The series begins with her first inspiration, the popular French coastal town of Deauville with its beige sand beaches, blue sea, boat jackets and striped sailor suits. From Deauville, the series progresses to Biarritz, where Coco was at the beginning of her own great success. The course ends in Venice: a great source of inspiration for Chanel through the city's rich history and ever-present art.

Deauville

Deauville 1912: epicentre of ambition and elegance, and one of the most popular seaside resorts of the Belle Époque. Here, les Balets Russes perform, trends are set, beaches and regattas embrace a new sporting culture. Deauville is a place to be, and to be seen. Enters Gabriel, on the arm of Boy Capel: finally they can bring their romance into the light of day. From the window of the finest suite at the hotel Normandy, Coco watches the boats catch the winds in their sails. At 29, she is on top of the world, she knows she will go far. She sees inspiration everywhere. in striped sailshirts, in boating jackets worn by Capel, the impressionist skies of Normandy and the wind that whips clothes into life. On the terrace of “Café de la Potiniere”, young Coco observes the stars from another century, with their cumbersome hairstyles and corsets that are hindrances to women. She is confident that the high society of Deauville, will soon be wearing her hats and her clothes.

Biarritz

As the First World War escalates, high society decamps to Biarritz. Russian princes and English lords, French counts and Castillian dukes, artists and businessmen retreat to this seaside resort made fashionable by Empress Eugénie. While on leave captain Boy Capel whisks Gabriel away to the coast. The two lovers live fast, attending fashionable parties, intoxicated by the ocean. Coco responds to the growl of the waves with fierce determination. She knows her future will be decided in Biarritz. Here, she will open not a boutique, but a couture house. On the road leading down to the beach and casino, she finds a sumptuous mansion, sets up a workshop, hires 60 women and brings her sister Antoinette from Paris. Three months later, Chanel opens its doors. Throngs of elegant ladies rush to place orders, offering Gabriel her first major victory: financial independence. In 1916, she is a success: Harper’s Bazaar salutes Chanel’s "charming chemise dress". 1918: the war is over. Chanel has won her own war, she is head of a company with 300 staff in Paris, Deauville, and Biarritz.

Venice

Grieving her lover and muse, Boy Capel, Gabriel Chanel fleas to Venice with Misia and her husband, the painter Josep Maria Sert. She marvels at a city in which art reigns: in the mystery of the palaces, the silence of the churches, and the secrecy of the museums. This beauty is a shock and a comfort. Venice is to become one of Chanel’s greatest sources of inspiration. She learns to differentiate styles and starts painting and discovers the sumptuous colours of Tintoretto: she uses his pigments for her lipstick and the lines and shapes of his paintings become a great inspiration for her bags. Coco, ever sensitive to the symbolic, finds inspiration in the mosaics, stone-made crosses and Byzantine medals present throughout the city. But above all, she holds a special place in her heart for the lion. The emblem of the city is also a star sign, and will go to punctuate her creations like a talisman.

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