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Art Education

Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel, was born Gabrielle Bonheur in France in 1883. She was the premier fashion designer at the turn of the 19th century. She helped liberate woman from the constraints of corsets and cages that were part of the popular style in the 1800’s. Beginning her career as a milliner designing hats, her creative exploits went beyond clothing to include handbags, jewelry, and her signature fragrance, Chanel No. 5. Coco would establish her own fashion house in 1918 in the fashion district of Paris.

Study the featured images below and follow the links to peruse the background information related to Coco’s designs. As you analyze her designs try to identify elements of her style. As you analyze her style ask yourself, what are the distinguishing features of Coco’s style? What are the distinct parts or features of her work; how would you describe her patterns and textures. What shapes does she use, how do the garment fit over the body, and how do you suppose the gameness feel when they are being worn?


Coco Chanel Designs


Fashion Flats


Textile Patterns

Project Procedure

Use the images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art or search the web for genuine Coco Chanel designs and create a series of sketches in your sketchbook of 3 of her designs.

Color the sketches lightly and shade darker to show shadow and highlight to create form in the work. Add any textures, patterns and details to your sketches as well.

Label the sketches with the tile of the garment as shown on the source site, list the creation date, and write any pertinent information about the design. Include swatches of color, pattern, and texture with the sketches and the notes to highlight those elements of the design. Peruse the featured slideshows below for samples of couture sketches.

Biography Task

Use the links below to gather facts about Coco Chanel and compose a brief biography about the designer. Using Google Drive create a Google Document titled “LastName_ChanelBio” (student’s last name) and share the document with Mr. Fatta. Paste the “Questions to Answer” found below onto your new Google Document.

Biography Links

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Coco Chanel and the House of Chanel

The Biography Channel, Coco Chanel Biography

Voguepedia Coco Chanel Biography

Biography Questions

      1. Where and when was Coco Chanel born?
      2. What is her real name?
      3. What was her childhood like, what happened to her family when she was very young?
      4. Why would she later try to change the facts of her childhood, what are some of the variations of the story?
      5. What was the first fashion item she designed out of school, what is a milliner?
      6. What skill she did she excel at when she was young, what job did she do in the orphanage at the convent?
      7. What was her first job as a young woman?
      8. When did she open her first shop, where was it, who helped her in this endeavor?
      9. What type of fabric did Chanel first start using in her designs?
      10. What was the material usually used for at the time?
      11. What are some of the reasons she used the material, what qualities does the material posses, why did she like it ?*
      12. How did her designs make fashion easier for woman at the time?

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