Women in Business - Chapter 01
Coco. Chanel. Fashion. Is not just about dresses. Fashion. Is something. In the air. Fashion. Is in the sky the street. Fashion. Is about ideas, the. Way we live what. Is happening. Coco. Chanel. At. The start of the 20th century the. Idea of women in business seemed. Crazy. In. Those days men, held, all the positions, of power and made, all the decisions about money. They. Believed that a woman's place was in the home looking. After her children cooking. For her family, and managing. The house, if. A woman needed to work she, could perhaps find a job in a shop or in, a factory, but, she had no chance of working as a business woman or a banker. Or a lawyer. Women's. Fashions, in the US and Europe at that time, supported. This idea of their position, in society. Fashionable. Women wore. Long dresses that almost touched the ground, this. Made it difficult for, them to drive a car ride. A horse or even, walk quickly, as a. Result, they, needed, men to arrange their travel for them a. Fashionable. Woman was, also expected, to keep her skin as white as possible, to, show that she didn't work outside, in the Sun, this. Meant that women, spent a lot of time indoors. When. They went out they, often wore large hats, that, were decorated, with flowers, leaves, and, fruit. These. Protected. Their faces, from the Sun and, made it even more difficult for them to move around. But. Many women weren't. Happy with their position in society and, they. Didn't like the clothes they had to wear either. One. Of these people was, a French woman called. Gabrielle. Coco, Chanel. When. She went into business in 1910. She. Planned to change the, clothes that women wore, but. Over the next 60, years she. Did much more than that as she. Became the richest and most successful. Businesswoman. Of the century. Coco. Chanel had, no experience, of business when she opened her first hat shop in Paris, in 1910. She. Was only 27, years old and she, came from an ordinary family. When. She left school she. Worked for a dressmaker, for a short time, later. She tried to become a singer, in a nightclub where. She was given the name, Coco. Coco. Was an attractive, young woman she. Always dressed, well and she, was good at making friends. Although. She didn't have any money she mixed, with fashionable. Successful. People and her, boyfriends, were often rich young army officers. One. Of these was. A handsome young Englishman. With, a big black moustache called, boy. Capel. When. Coco asked him to lend her some money so she could open a shop he, was surprised, he. Had never heard of a woman in business before but. He liked the idea a. Woman. In, business he. Said that. Sounds fun, how, much do you want. Coco. Asked, for enough money to, open a shop in one of the best streets, in Paris. No. Problem, replied. Boy Capel he, was so rich that, he didn't care if he never got his money back. Many. Of Coco's customers, in her first shop were, her rich young women friends, they. Loved the simple, but beautiful hats, that Coco made for them at. Parties they, laughed at other women who still wore hats that were covered in fruit and flowers. Soon. They were asking, Coco for clothes that were designed in the same simple, way. Coco. Hated, the long dresses that fashionable, women wore and so, she was happy to make dresses and skirts that were much shorter and, reached just, below the knee. She. Also persuaded, her cast to wear loose jackets, and blouses that allowed, them to breathe more easily. Again. The rich fashionable. Young women of Paris loved, Coco's, new ideas, and her, shop started, to do well. In. 1913. Coco. Asked boy Capel for more money because. She wanted to open a second shop this, time in the French seaside, town of Deauville.
In. Summer. The, streets of Deauville were full of fashionable, people from all over Europe. Russian. Princesses, mixed, with English ladies and the daughters of German, businessmen, and they, were all looking for clothes in the latest style. After. Her success in Paris Coco. Was sure she could offer all of them something special. She. Was right the. Young women in Deauville loved, her simple hats loose, jackets, and skirts. And dresses that, reached just below the knee. Coco. Made plenty of money in her first year in Deauville and in, her second, summer she, expected, to do even better. But. Then for. Everyone in Europe, everything. Went wrong in. June. 1914. In Sarajevo. Bosnia a young. Student called, Gavrilo, Princip, shot. And killed Archduke. Franz Ferdinand. An important. Person, in the Austrian, royal family. Two. Months later almost. All the nations of Europe were, fighting, one of the worst wars in history in. August. Of that year the. German army marched, through Belgium, and into, the north of France, the. French army, was not prepared for this and soldiers. Rushed, to defend their country, the. British Army quickly, came to help but. The situation, looked very dangerous. Many. Rich French, families, rushed. From the north of France to, the expensive. Hotels, of Deauville to get away from the fighting, some. People were frightened, but, most were in a good mood, don't. Worry they. Told each other. War will be finished by Christmas. But. After a few weeks it was, clear that they were wrong. More. And more men, left over to go and fight in the French army, soon. The expensive, hotels, were changed, into hospitals, full. Of soldiers who had been hurt in the fighting, the. Rich French, women of Deauville saw. That it was their duty to help, the French army and many. Of them took jobs as nurses, in the hospitals, or did other kinds, of war work. But. After a few days they. Realized, that it was impossible to work in their long dresses. They. Looked around for different things to wear. Where. Can we find clothes, that are stylish. But, will also allow us to work they. Asked each other. They. Found the answer in Coco. Chanel's new shop, has. Simple, hats loose, jackets, and straight skirts were, just what these women needed they.
Was Stylish, but, they also allowed, women to move around quickly. Coco. Was soon selling, clothes as fast as she could make them a. Year. Later in, the, summer of 1915. Coco. Had worked so hard for, so long that she was ready for a holiday. So. Boy Capel, took, a break from his job with the British army and together. They, went to Biarritz in the south of France the. Mood in this seaside, town was, very different to the mood in Deauville, in. Deauville, everyone. Spent all their time worrying. About the war in, Biarritz. People. Just wanted to have a good time and to forget about it, the. Town was full of young army officers who were spending a few days away from the fighting with, their wives and girlfriends. There. Was dancing, in the big hotels, every, night the, shops and restaurants were, always busy. But. The war meant that it was hard for women in Biarritz to, find the sort of fashionable, clothes that they wanted, Coco. Immediately. Saw, a business opportunity. She, realized that, women in Biarritz wanted. A different style, of clothes from, women in Deauville, these. Women wanted, to go out and have fun they. Wanted to look good and they didn't really care how much they paid for their clothes. Don't. You see she. Said to boy, this. Could be a new direction for the business in, Biarritz. I can sell clothes, that are modern and simple but, that also allow, women to feel beautiful, and, to enjoy, themselves. Boy. Capel put, his fingers, to his big black moustache and thought. For a moment and. Added. Cocoa i think. Women will also pay a very, good price for these, clothes if we, can sell them in the right way. What. Do you mean ask. Boy. Well. Said. Coco these. Clothes need, to have a new look the. Chanel clothes in Biarritz will, not just be clothes for rich women who work these. Clothes, will make women, feel good when. They wear them. Boy. Wasn't sure about the idea, but. Where, will you get the cloth for these clothes, he, asked no. Other designer, can get cloth at the moment we, are in, the middle of a war you know. Don't. Worry, about that, said. Coco I find. The cloth I just, need the money. Money. Said. Boy cable oh no. Problem. I've got plenty of money. Boy. Capel sounded confident but. As he lent more money to Coco he, never really, expected, to see it again but. Coco's. Idea was quite right, she. Found that she could still, buy cloth across, the border in Spain which, wasn't fighting in the war, then. She, rented an expensive, house in the, middle of the town and hired. 60, women to make her new dresses. She. Sold the dresses for, very high prices, but. Women were happy to pay for the they. Were so popular that people. Even came from Madrid, to buy them. For. The next three years Coco, traveled, between, her three businesses, in Paris. Deauville. And Biarritz, while. The First World War continued. In the north and east of France. By. 1916. Over. 300. People were working for her. She. Soon made so, much money that she, could pay back boy, Capel, all that she had borrowed. Coco. Had been lucky because, the war had given her a chance to make her new designs, popular. But. She had also shown that, she could recognize business. Opportunities, and that, she could change her style to, suit her customers. When. The war finished in November. 1918. Coco. Was ready to start the next and most successful. Part. Of her business life. The. First World War, completely. Changed, European, society. Millions. Of young men had been killed and, women. Now, had a much more important, position in society. Women. Had shown that they could work in offices, and factories while.
Men Were fighting in the war in, many. Countries women. Were now allowed to vote for their government for the first time. By. The start of the 1920s. Women. Had realized, that they could be different from their mothers they. Could lead a very different. Kind of life from, the one they had known before, the war. After. The bad times of the war rich. Young people, just wanted to spend money and to have fun, they. Drove their shiny new cars to the beach where, they played games and swam in the sea, both. Men and women, went to parties, where, they smoked cigarettes, and drank, alcohol. They. Danced, to the music of Louis Armstrong, and Jelly, Roll Morton, they. Went to the cinema to, watch the films of Charlie Chaplin and, Gobbo and they. Also wore. The clothes of Coco, Chanel. Women. Didn't want to return to the long tight dresses and silly, hats of the years before the war they. Wanted clothes that allowed them to move around freely. Chanel. Style was, just right for the time. But. Now her, clothes were not just for the women of Paris, Deauville and beer it's the. End of the war meant, that she could sell her clothes around the world. For. Women in the big cities of Europe, she made smart, suits, of jackets, and skirts and for. Women on holiday, she, designs special Beach clothes in the. US her, dresses, were so successful, that a magazine even, compared, them to the Ford Motor Car, Coco's. Business grew, and grew. But. Coco didn't, just think about clothes. She. Realized that women couldn't always wear diamonds and, other expensive, jewelry, when they went out so. She started making jewelry that, looked real but, was made from cheap materials. She. Also introduced, the idea of short, hair for women, and for. The first time she, made it popular for women to go out in the Sun so, their skin went brown. But. Coco's, best decision, was, to go into the cosmetics, business. She. Knew that the cosmetics, business and, the fashion industry, was similar in many ways and she, was sure that her ideas, could, help her to be successful, in this area. She. Also believed, that cosmetics. Were very important. She. Once said if, a, woman doesn't wear perfume, she, has no future. So. In the early 1920s, she. Went to see a man called Pierre wertimer, to, discuss her plan, vert, imma owned, the biggest perfume. Factory, in France and he, was very happy to work with such a famous designer. At. That time women. Wore perfumes, which always smelled, of flowers. But. Coco wanted. Perfume, to have a completely, different smell. Together. Vert, heimer and Chanel, invented. A new kind of perfume and they. Decided to sell it in a simple, square, bottle. They. Agreed to give it koco's name and she. Added, her lucky number. The. Result was. Chanel, number five the. Most successful. Perfume, of the past hundred, years. As. Coco, grew richer, and more successful, she, mixed with the most famous people of the time she. Loved to be with artists, and she, made clothes for shows at theaters in Paris where. She worked with Jean, Cocteau, Pablo. Picasso, and Sergei, Diaghilev, these. People, all admired, cookers, work and understood. What she was trying to do. Koko. Worked in fashion according to rules that seemed to have value, only for painters, musicians and. Writers, says. Jean Cocteau. But. Koko didn't just mix with artists. She. Often went to parties, where she met important, people like the future King of England the, Prince of Wales and Britain's. Future war leader Winston. Churchill, and, after. Her boyfriend of the war years boy, Capel was killed in a car crash she. Was often seen on the arm of rich Russian, and English Lords. For. Cocoa and her friends, for, 1920s. Were the happiest, 10 years of the 20th century. But. The good times suddenly. Ended, in October 1929. When. The stock exchange. In Wall Street New, York crashed. Share. Prices fell, and fell, and fell. The. World economy was badly damaged. Thousands. Of businesses, closed and millions. Of people lost their jobs. For. Most people the, Wall Street Crash was. A disaster. But. Not for Coco Chanel. While. Ordinary people suffered the, richest people in the world still had money and they still wanted, expensive. Fashionable. Clothes. Instead. Of making cheaper, simpler, clothes she. Started, to design even, more expensive clothes, and to, use real diamonds, in her jewelry. Coco. Had remembered, the lesson of Biarritz, in, times, of trouble the, secret, of success is, to, help people to, forget their problems. In. These bad times for, the world economy other. Successful. People remembered. The same secret. One. Of these people was, the great Hollywood, film producer, Sam Goldwyn.
As. Ordinary, people in America got poorer and poorer, he. Realized, that they wanted to see films about a different kind of world they. Wanted films, that showed the wonderful, lives of rich beautiful, people, they. Wanted to go to the cinema and get away from their problems. Goldwyn. Decided, that people in his films, should wear the best and the most expensive, clothes, in the world and so. He, went to the top fashion designer, in the world, Coco, Chanel. Cocoa. Understood, his idea immediately, and she, was interested. How. Much will you pay me she. Asked. $1,000,000. Said. Goldwyn. With. An offer of so much money, how, could, Coco, refuse, she. Went to Hollywood she, met the film stars and then she started work on their clothes. Everyone. Waited, to see the results. The. First film was, called tomorrow. Or never and its, star was Gloria Swanson, in the. Film her clothes were beautiful but, they were quite simple. When. The film was shown in the US people, were surprised they. Had expected something more for, 1 million dollars. When. An American, newspaper wrote, about the film it said Chanel. Wants a lady to look like a lady Hollywood. Wants a lady to look like two ladies. Chanel. Kept the money but, Sam Goldwyn decided, not to use her clothes again. Back. In Paris Coco. Had more problems, the. French economy was in a very bad state. People. Without work wanted, jobs and the, people with jobs wanted, more money. Bosses. Like Coco had everything while. It was hard for many French people to feed their families. In. The. Middle of the 1930s. Coco's. Business employed, around 4,000. People, she. Thought she was good to the people who worked for her but, some of them had a different opinion in. 1936. 50. Of her workers stopped, work and sat. Down in, one of her factories, in Paris. Coco. Put on her best suit and rushed, to, speak to them but. They had locked the door of her factory and she couldn't get in. Coco. Was very angry how. Could they do this to her, she. And her workers argued. And argued but. They couldn't agree on a solution to their differences. Coco's. Reply, showed. That she was a very tough businesswoman. She. Sacked 300. Of them, but. Still they refused, to change their minds. Coco. Now had an even more serious, problem, she. Had designed some new clothes for, a fashion show and she. Was worried, that they wouldn't be ready, what. Could she do. She. Decided to give her workers what they wanted, but. She never forgot what they had done to her. At. Around this time Coco, started, to go out with a rich German, man called. Hands Gunther. Von pinck laughs. She. Always called him von d, nobody. Knew exactly what fonde was doing in Paris, but, many people thought that he was a spy for Germany's. Nazi, government, this. Didn't worry Coco and the two of them started to live together in the expensive, Paris, Ritz Hotel. But. While Coco and von d enjoyed. Their life, Europe. Moved, closer to war in. 1938. Hitler's. German, army marched. Into Czechoslovakia. The. Next year the, Germans marched, into Poland and the, Second, World War began. Although. Coco's business had done well in the First World War she. Decided that she didn't want to work through another war perhaps. She was still angry with her workers after, the problems of 1936. Or perhaps, she had just had enough of business. But. For whatever reason in. 1939. Coco. Closed, her fashion business and all, her workers lost, their jobs, many. People, were angry with her and asked, her to change her mind, but she simply told them this. Is no, time for fashion. Through. The winter of 1939. And into 1940. The, French people waited. And worried. In. 1940. The German, army, arrived and took control of Paris. Many. French people started. Secret, groups and continued. To fight the Germans but, not Coco. She. Was happy in her rooms at the Ritz Hotel with, her German boyfriend, and she, just wanted to enjoy her life, the. War hadn't, closed the theatres and shops of Paris so she could still go out and do what she wanted, but. As her fashion business was now closed she. Needed to find other ways of making money. She. Knew that her perfume, Chanel number 5 was. Still very popular with the French and German women who were living in Paris. She. Also knew, that her partner, in the perfume business Pia ever timer had. Left France to get away from the war and was, now living in the US.
Coco. Thought, she saw an opportunity to. Take control of the whole perfume, business, but. Although over time er was on the other side of the Atlantic, he. Was not going to allow this to happen. Chanel. Number 5 made, him so much money but, he didn't want to lose control of it, Coco. Ver, temir and their lawyers started. To argue about it. But. While Coco and their timer fought, for control of Chanel, number 5 the. Germans, were, slowly Lu control, of the war, in. June. 1944. The. British and the Americans, landed. On the beaches of the west of France and started. To move towards Paris. Two. Months later they. Were just outside, the city, the. Germans, realized, that they were beaten, and started. To leave, the. People of Paris opened the doors of their houses, had, parties, and danced. In the streets. But. Coco wasn't so happy she. Knew that many French, people were, angry with people who had helped the Germans in the war and they, wanted to punish them, would. They want to punish Coco. She. Wasn't going to wait to, find out when. The war ended she, left France and went. To live abroad. For. Most of the next eight years, Coco. Lived quietly in Switzerland. She. Soon found out that she was so rich that she didn't need to work. She. Continued, to argue with Pierre timer about, the control of Chanel number five from, her new Swiss home, but. When he returned, to France after the war they. Found a way to solve, their problems, their. Timer kept. Control of the perfume business but. He agreed to pay Coco two percent of the money from sales of the perfume, around the world. This. Meant that Coco was now earning, around 1 million dollars, a year and she, didn't even have to get out of bed in the morning. As. The, years passed some. People still, remembered, the beautiful, Chanel clothes from, the years before the war but. They soon forgot the rich old lady who had designed them. Although. Coco now had everything that she wanted she didn't. Really like her new life she had, loved her work and now, she missed, the world of fashion. She. Still read fashion, magazines, and looked. Carefully at all the new designs. But. Coco found that more and more often she, didn't like what she saw. The. New star designer, in the fashion world was, a Frenchman called, Christian, Dior in. 1947. He produced, his new. Look. His. Shirts and jackets were, tight and made, it difficult for, women to breathe his. Skirts and dresses were, narrow at the waist and wide, at the bottom and they, reached down to women's shoes. Women. Love deals clothes, they. Were very different to the boring, clothes and uniforms, that they had had to wear during the war years. They. Were also very different, to the Chanel look of the years before the war. Every. Year Christian. Dior's new look made, Coco more and more angry in. 1953. She decided, that she couldn't, sit and watch and do nothing she had. To return to the fashion business, she. Returned to Paris and started. To design new clothes for a fashion show the next year, many. People thought she was crazy. What. Does a 70. Year old woman know about modern, fashion, they, asked, doesn't. She know that times, have changed. But. Coco didn't listen and on. The 5th of February 1954. She. Introduced, her new designs, at a fashion show in Paris, the. Show was a disaster. The. Newspaper, said, that they were clothes for old ladies, and country, people, Coco. Was upset, and angry that her designs had been criticized, so strongly. These. People, just don't understand. She, said it's. True, that I'm old but. I'm still one, of the greatest designers, in the world, I changed. Women's fashion, once and I, know I can, change it again I'll, show, them. So. Coco, didn't, return to Switzerland and she didn't, stop working. The. Next year she produced, some different designs for another fashion show and this, time many, people liked them the. Year after that there, was another new show and. More and more people started. To admire her clothes. By. The end of the 1950's. She, was again one, of the most important, fashion designers, in the world. During. The 1960s, rich. And beautiful women from all over the world visited. Coco's, offices, to, ask for advice and to, buy new suits and skirts, and dresses. Coco. Was rich and successful but. Nobody. Really knew if she was happy for the. Final, 17 years, of her life she lived, alone in, the Ritz Hotel in, Paris. Every. Morning she walked across the road to work in the offices, above one of her shops she. Was often still cutting cloth and making, dresses late, at night.
Why. Did she work so hard she once, said, work. Has always been, a kind, of drug for me if. Work. Was a drug it, was a drug that helped her to live for a long time, she. Was still designing, new clothes for, the world's top women when she died in 1971. She, was, 87, years old. Today. Chanel. Is still, one of the most important, names in fashion and cosmetics, but. The modern house, of Chanel is very, different, to Coco's old company, a new. Boss the German designer Karl, Lagerfeld, joined, the company in 1983. And, introduced, several new ideas. He. Saw that the company, could use Chanel's, famous, name to, sell many different, products all over the world, soon. The company had shops in over 40, countries, the. Chanel name was, on hats belts. Jewelry. Clothes, and handbags, as well. As on many different kinds of cosmetics. Chanel's. Products, were bought by many more women than ever before. But. If Coco was still alive today she. Would probably be pleased with many things about the modern company, she. Could walk into the best shop in any big city in the world and buy, her Chanel, number five perfume, and it would still be in the same square, bottle. She. Could walk into a Chanel shop and still, find smart, suits, and beautiful. Dresses in the simple Chanel, tradition. In. Her work as a designer, Coco. Chanel loved, simple, styles, because, she believed that a woman was, always more important, than the, dress that she wore. Dress. Badly, she. Once said and people. Will notice the dress, dress. Well and people, will notice the woman. In. Her, life people. Noticed Coco, Chanel not. Just because of wonderful, clothes but. Also because, she was the first and most successful, international. Businesswoman. Of the 20th century.