FASHION

An Ode to Coco Chanel’s Personal Style, From Tweed Suits to Fur Coats

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Try as Naomi Campbell and Tilda Swinton might, no one has ever quite worn a Chanel suit like Coco Chanel herself. Born on this day in 1883 as Gabrielle Bonheur, Chanel entered a convent-run orphanage at age 12, which was where she learned to sew—and thereby, of course, sowing the seeds of her legendary namesake label, which would come to practically define the word “chic.” Still, it wasn’t just revolutionary couture that resulted from the tightly run ship that was her atelier on rue Cambon in Paris. It also produced Chanel the couturière and icon. Throughout her lifetime, she was almost impossibly poised, to the point that she could be found wearing her signature pearls even when simply lounging in her apartment. (It was her celebrity that helped her hide the documented yet never-confirmed reports that she was a Nazi agent.) In celebration of her birthday, take a look back at her inimitable style, as captured by the surrealist fashion photographer Horst P. Horst and more, here.

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Coco Chanel modeling a Chanel suit on rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris, 1929.

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Coco Chanel photographed in her preferred pose—lounging in a chair—for Vanity Fair, 1931.

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Coco Chanel wearing a fur coat at a hotel in London, 1932.

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Coco Chanel outside of her home on rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris.

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Coco Chanel photographed in a now colorized photo in Paris, 1936.

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Coco Chanel wearing a hat, photographed in 1931.

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Coco Chanel lounging, photographed for the Evening Standard in 1962.

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Coco Chanel wearing a fur coat in New York City, 1932.

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Coco Chanel in her apartment on rue Cambon in Paris, 1959.

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Coco Chanel photographed in Paris, 1936.

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Coco Chanel photographed in Paris, 1937.

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Coco Chanel photographed by Horst. P. Horst, reclining on a sofa in her home, 1960.