The Romantic Origins of Coco Chanel

CHANEL is a privately owned haute couture fashion house with a global following for its couture and luxury ready-to-wear lines, accessories, fragrances, and makeup. Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel began her career in 1909 selling hats from her lover’s apartment in Paris. Financed by the men in her life, Chanel opened shops in fashionable French neighborhoods, began to sell dresses and sportswear, and in 1915 opened her first couture house, giving birth to a legend. CHANEL doesn’t just sell merchandise; it sells a persona, a lifestyle and an ideology. One that continues to align itself with the spirit of its creator.

Tied to its Heritage

Chanel was born into poverty and raised in an orphanage. Determined to leave this life behind, she created a new persona for herself. “The transformation was successful; Gabrielle created for herself a glamorous alter ego, “Coco”-an athletic, sexually independent playgirl noted for her cultivation, famous friends and royal lovers” (Chanel).

Relationships with prominent men enabled her to socialize with wealthy, elite clients. Her personality and work enabled her to gain acceptance, an unprecedented fete for a dressmaker. Chanel was her own advocate and marketing genius. She wore the designs she created and was strategically photographed in them. Chanel became a celebrity; women wanted not only to dress like her but to be like her.

The company continues to capitalize on her appeal and legendary status. Packaging for the Chanel No. 5 perfume maintains most of its original design. And many patterns, fabrics, and design concepts remain a part of the collections.

Continued Concepts

Lagerfeld was appointed artistic director in 1983 and carries on Chanel’s ideology. He is a worldwide celebrity like Chanel was and has been called “the most famous fashion designer in the world” (Style.com). Chanel was modern in her approach but while innovative in the field, she was still successful in creating timeless, classic designs. Willing to take chances and invite the spirit of the day into an established line of classics, Lagerfeld evokes the adventurous side of Chanel while respecting her genius. For the Fall 2010 Ready to Wear show, Lagerfeld once again successfully combined old and new. Style.com called his creations an “in-every-way extravagant play on Coco in cold weather”. CHANEL.com describes Lagerfeld: “At CHANEL he has changed nothing and everything, interpreting CHANEL in his own way with elegance and wit.”

The Strong History of Burberry

In 1856 a fashion empire was born. That year, Thomas Burberry, a 21 year old draper’s apprentice opened a small outfitters shop in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England. Burberry dedicated his work to the improvement of fabric technology and functionality. He pushed boundaries so that early adventurers could do the same while weathering even the harshest elements.

Ernest Shackleton

In 1911 Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen donned Burberry in his landmark race to the South Pole. In 1914 Ernest Shackleton and his team of explorers wore Burberry during an expedition of Antarctica. In 1919 Captain Sir John William Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown sported windproof Burberry jackets during the first flight across the Atlantic. In 1924 George Mallory climbed Everest in Burberry apparel.

Burberry was a pioneer. He developed gabardine, a breathable, weatherproof, and tearproof fabric in 1880. In 1895, he created the Tielocken coat which was adopted by British officers during the Boer War. In 1914 Burberry was commissioned by the War Office to adapt the earlier officer’s coat for new combat requirements. He added epaulettes and ‘D’rings and the marvelous, ageless ‘trench coat’ was born.

The Burberry check we all know so well was introduced as a lining to the trench coat in the 1920’s. Burberry’s unmistakable logo shows a knight on horseback with his lance drawn. The knight is accompanied by the Latin word ‘Prorsum’ meaning forwards. The logo symbolizes the protection Burberry provides against the elements and its dedication to progress and invention.

Burberry has received Royal Grants from Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince of Wales. It is an internationally recognized luxury brand with a worldwide distribution through only the finest department stores and boutiques.

Audrey Hepburn in Burberry

Always committed to quality and innovation in fabric and outerwear design, Burberry has enjoyed a loyal following since the beginning. Long live Burberry!

Remembering a Pop Icon

What are the defining features of a pop icon? Someone with notoriety whose character captures the essence of an era. Someone a little dreamy, a little elusive, a little larger than life….someone like Humphrey Bogart.

What I love most about Bogart is that he didn’t get his first movie break as leading man until he was in his 40s and yet he rose to the heights of fame. He has been ranked American cinemas greatest male star and his impression may well last forever.

He looks damn good in a trench coat, with a cigar, drinking in a bar, holding a gun, hanging out in the smog, swanky bars, with leading ladies and always in a tailored suit. He might not have always had the most ideal figure but his eyes, his mannerisms, and his well clad clothes made him powerful, enigmatic, and alluring.

Two things I take from Bogart, one keep on doing what you love no matter how long it takes to get a break. Never let a passion fall by the waste side.

with Ingrid Bergman

Two, own yourself and your character. Become someone. Figure out what your passions are, what you value and what you believe in and then become the very essence of all of that. It’s okay to not do everything in any traditional way, to make mistakes, to not be perfect.

with Audrey Hepburn

Bogart smoked and drank and sadly he contracted cancer of the esophagus, but Bogart was Real. He wasn’t perfect, he was a man. I love Bogart, I love his characters, and I love the sadness and the confidence that always loomed in his eyes because it spoke and said I’ve lived, I’ve felt, and I’ve continued on. This is me, I am who I am, take it or leave it.

For The Ultimate Fratty or Prep ‘Doddy’

Ryder Cup Practice Uniform

Switching gears from little Sophie for a moment I have to praise Ciao Bella for adopting a new line of menswear, Peter Millar. For the gentleman who enjoys styling himself in the most distinguishable attire, I highly recommend some new purchases from this master of classic design. Who is Peter Millar? Oh just the guy who designed the highly sophisticated shirts and sweaters for the 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup Team. What could be frattier than that? If ever there was a gentleman’s game and only a gentleman’s game, minus Daly’s tantrums and Tiger’s affairs of course, it was golf.

Saturday's Ryder Cup Uniform

After perusing the brand’s site I was even more impressed. No real signs of snobbery just sophistication: “At some point being stylish began to mean uncomfortable jackets, painful shoes and pretentious attitudes. If that defines a fashion brand then we are a lifestyle brand.” As concerned with comfort and functionality as design these clothes seamlessly transition from play to work and back again. For the gentleman with more on his mind and a passion for life, not clothes, what could be better? What’s more, for my local followers, this global enterprise and mastermind of apparel is headquartered in our good ole’ North Carolina.

Tailored Peter Millar Menswear

As you select your fall attire and prepare your holiday wish lists, remember that while a gentleman’s charm and manners are his strong suit, pure style never hurt anyone. Lady’s who love a fratstar please note Peter Millar for your well dressed mate. As far as price point is concerned I’d rank it as a lot more affordable but just as classy as Brooks Brothers. For Chapel Hill locals, you can also find it at Julian’s on Franklin, ONeil’s in University Mall, Nordstrom at South Point, and Varsity Menswear at North Hills in Raleigh. For stores in other areas click here for the store finder.

Picking Your Pup

1. Border Collie

A friend of a friend brought home a precious new puppy. In not much time the new pooch was coined ‘devil dog’. Instead of becoming a loving addition to his life, the far too mischievous

2. Poodle

devil dog became a nightmare. To help you avoid this same mistake I have compiled some information on selecting a breed. If you already have some breeds in mind, Animal Planet has a great breed guide which

3. German Shepherd

ranks different breeds and describes characteristics from energy level to heat tolerance so you can find your best match.

Some dogs are smarter than other. While this doesn’t indicate what dog is ‘the best’, I still found it of interest. The top 5 are 1) Border Collie 2) Poodle 3) German Shepherd 4) Golden Retriever 5) Doberman Pinscher.

4. Golden Retriever

For a list of the top ten and a little more information about each click here.

5. Doberman Pinscher

You can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends…and your pets. So do yourself the favor, take some time, and choose wisely. A good pet is like a good friend, priceless ( a little mushy but so true).

Puppy News

Miss Sophie

Sophie is a Labrador- Pit bull mix, at least we think…

At this stage she loves all things chewable and has an enviable abundance of energy. Right now she’s composing music with her new squeaky toy in between random episodes of sprints around the apartment.

Sophie at play

Psychologists, veterinarians, and researchers, agree that pets can be good for our mental and physical health. Dogs provide: 1) unconditional love, 2) help prevent loneliness, 3) force us to get exercise, 4) are excellent listeners, and 5) are generally good at bringing smiles to our faces.

Finally tuckered out

If you’re thinking about getting a pet, the America Kennel Club advises considering whether you can provide the following things first:

  1. Food
  2. Water
  3. Shelter
  4. Exercise
  5. Training
  6. Health Care
  7. Grooming
  8. Play
  9. Companionship
  10. Devotion
  11. Forgiveness

Check out my blog tomorrow for more on how to pick the right dog, including a list of the top 5 smartest breeds.

History of Halloween

No top 5’s for today, just a history recap. The origins of October’s upcoming holiday date back more than 2,000 years. Ancient Celts celebrated their New Year’s Day, called Samhain, on November 1. The Celts believed spirits walked the earth on the eve of this holiday and would build bonfires and wear costumes to ward them off.

In 40 A.D. the Romans conquered the Celts. At this time, two Roman festivals may have combined with Samhain: Parentalia, a nine day festival honoring spirits of the dead and a festival honoring Pomona, the goddess of fruit and trees. Since the Romans used a different calendar than the Celts, the new year aspect of Halloween was supposedly lost at this time.

 In the 800’s A.D. the Catholic Church replaced Samhain with All Saints’ Day or All Hallows Day. All Hallows Eve continued to be celebrated with the traditional costumes and bonfires of Samhain. Later the Catholic Church made November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day in honor of the dead.

In the nineteenth century All Hallows Eve or Halloween began to lose its religious connections and became an increasingly secular holiday. Hope you enjoy your Halloween this year, however you choose to celebrate!