What Can Coco Chanel Teach Us About Social Media?

What Can Coco Chanel Teach Us About Social Media?

Gabriella Bonheur "Coco" Chanel (1883-1971)

OCO CHANEL- Born Gabriella Bonheur Chanel in Saumer on the Loire and orphaned at the age of  12. Stories of the fashionista have started to come alight since the making of her Biography ‘Coco Before Chanel’ played by Audrey Tautou. We find out that Coco was more than Chanel. She lead a life filled with secrecy, adultery and even managed to play a role in WW1.

Coco Pretending To Be Chanel-

I’m not denying the fact that she was Chanel, it’s more to do with the fact that her life was one very well played out opera. Filled with passion, wealth, appearances and deception. Her father had absconded the family yet she defended his decision by saying he had pursued “Business Interests” when in fact he was a peddler. Once her mother had passed away, Chanel and her two sisters were placed in the orphanage. When she had turned 18 she found refuge at a convent where they taught her the trade of being a seamstress. This was where she began her fashion odyssey. She transformed 20th Century woman into independent free-thinkers.

Chanel attempted to become a singer by starting off at music hall for wealthy young men and military officers. Her distasteful choice in music lead her to choose her one and only no.1 hit “Qui Qua’vu Coco Dans L’Trocadero” which coined her the nickname “Coco.”

Young Coco had a rare unrefined beauty. She knew she had what the men wanted and flaunted it. She found solace in a wealthy horse breeder, Etienne Balsan, who introduced Coco to the aristocracy. The relationship did not last long but she found a niche in fashion- Hats. The wealthy wives of the high society put Coco in high demand. In these circles she met her long term business partner and lover Arthur “Boy” Capel.

Coco Chanel and Arthur "Boy" Capel

The Business Of Bonnets-

Coco had convinced Balsan and Boy to set her up with resources for her budding business creating and making hats. She defied all that the 1920’s stood for. Trousers for ladies? Denouncing all things colourful and flowery? Coco made 20th Century France a woman’s world without knowing it. She empowered others by empowering herself. Hats were only just the beginning. 1910 was the rise of Chanel! Boy had set her up in the heart beat of Paris where she flourished as a reputable designer. Her ‘New Silhouette’ look hit the streets and Coco was thriving. Her ideas frightened men and excited woman. She had taken her inspiration from menswear and sportswear.

Luxurious Miserablism-

A great phrase I saw whilst reading the Independent.UK, this was a phrase used to describe Coco by traditionalists that strongly disagreed with Coco’s vision of woman participating in the modern movement (Of Fashion).

She was idolized by many woman for her perspective on modern fashion that people set out to replicate her designs. Did you know she made “Sun-Tanning” fashionable? Don’t feel bad I didn’t either. She also became a pioneer perfumista as the first fashion designer to label a perfume as her own. BUT here’s the twist- she doesn’t own the rights to her perfume. She was unable to finance her venture so she approached the 2 Jewish Wertheimer Brothers. During the war she attempted to use the Anti-Semitic laws to claim the rights for herself.

Fight or Flee?

Paris 1940 the Germans had occupied France. Coco closed her shop and relocated to the Ritz where she found comfort in the Arms of a Nazi Intelligence Officer, Hans Gunther Von Dincklage. Coco by this time had made herself popular with iconic political figures and inevitably became involved in a plot to negotiate a peace treaty on behalf of Winston Churchill for England and Germany. Needless to say their plan failed… Miserabaly!

Once the French had claimed independence once more from Germany’s clasp Coco fled to Switzerland by order of the British in order to avoid standing trial.

31 Rue Cambon, Paris.

After the cooling period, Coco returned to Paris to relaunch her Fashion House at 31 Rue Cambon, Paris. Unfortunately due to her unpatriotic tendencies the French weren’t in favour of Chanel therefore forcing Coco to reach out to a broader spectrum of customers. The Pink Suit Jackie Kennedy is seen wearing the day of her husbands assassination in 1963 was Chanel.

The competitors became more fierce for Chanel and her greatest nemesis is Christian Dior. She accused him of back peddling fashion and crushing the one thing she stood for most ‘Woman.’ Ironic though due to the fact that she was the object of every man yet she refused woman as a whole to be portrayed as frivolous objects in a mans world.

So in essence this is what Coco Chanel can teach us all about Social Media.

The Do’s:

  • “ALWAYS to remove and to pluck, NEVER to add. ”  -Coco Chanel. This is something we can all learn from, stop over analyzing the fashion of social media. The simpler, the better.
  • Luxury should be comfortable, otherwise it’s not luxury relates to us in the sense that if we aren’t comfortable with our own content why encourage others to find comfort in it?
  • Stick to what you know. That’s your power card. Coco knew fashion. She knew trends before they were trends. That is your identifier, your money maker and your influence.
  • Strive to be an icon in your industry. Make your content shareable and accessible. Encourage people to use your ideas as templates to replicate forward thinking.
  • Revolutionize your perspective! Coco said she would not make war fashionable and became a voice for those who had none.
  • Every effort made is not an effort wasted!!

Coco was by no means a Saint, this is how she taught us what NOT to do Indirectly.

The Don’ts:

Don't Smoke Kids! It's Bad For Your Health...
  • Don’t facilitate failure.
  • Don’t sit on the fence, believe in your brand and don’t bend.
  • Don’t give way to competitors. Remain true to your cause!
  • Don’t sleep with the Enemy!! (Literally and figuratively.)
  • Don’t flee to Switzerland and abandon your responsibility to your dedicated followers. Deal with the monster. PR will come back to haunt you!
  • Don’t for the love of all things Chanel- Shave your head! This is one thing she got right. . .
  • If you aren’t happy with your current social media presence, then be intelligent about it and “Relaunch” the improved you.
  • Don’t get addicted to morphine.
  • Media that does not reach the streets is not Social!

“Fashion is Architecture: It is a matter of Proportions.”
-Coco Chanel

A young woman asked Coco “Where should one use perfume?” and she answered, “Wherever one wants to be kissed.” This should apply to using Social Media as well. Social media like fashion is taste. Therefore, One should use social media to get noticed in their niche. We’re hearing more and more of how social media is becoming niche based- so use it. Harness it. You’ll never know everything in this bubble yet social media through Coco’s eyes will keep you on your toes. She worked right up until the day she died and will forever be immortalized by the lady at the restaurant wearing a Chanel suit, the lawyer with Chanel shoes, the MD of a company wearing Rue Cambon Perfume or that famous actress with a Chanel bag parading on the red carpet at the Oscars.  

Chanel Heels

“There is no time for cut-and-dried monotony. There is time for work and time for love. That leaves no other time”
-Coco Chanel

Run free little Social Media enthusiasts and come back Social Media Fashionista’s. Shape, Transform and Revolutionize!!


11 thoughts on “What Can Coco Chanel Teach Us About Social Media?

  1. Chanel is one of my touchstones; I’ve been reading about her since my teens. Because you take such pains to get the details right, your essay is an absolute pleasure. I love how you make the connection from Chanel to social media– it’s something I never would have considered, but makes absolute sense.

    The biggest thing I learned from Chanel is that you use what you have to do what you can, and make it yours. Always, your own.

    (And you’ve managed to do that here! Brilliant!)

    • Thanks! I really appreciate that! And again thank you for reading- it’s always a pleasure get feedback and your attention to detail is refreshing. As Chanel would say “Everything is in our heads, so we better not lose them.” Thanks Courtenay! 😉

  2. Holy S—! Kirsty! That’s the best post I think I have ever read! I was locked in. And the way you segue so authentically into Social Media in the latter part, Jeez!!

    There better be a book in your future plans!

  3. Pingback: The Artist vs Twitter « Flashing For Money

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