The House of Chanel, more commonly known as Chanel, is a Parisian fashion house in France. According to Forbes, the privately held House of Chanel is jointly owned by Alain Wertheimer and Gerard Wertheimer who are the grandsons of Chanel founder Pierre Wertheimer.
Founded in 1909, the small shop selling ladies headwear had moved to the upmarket Rue Cambon within a year. The house became especially famous with its signature Chanel No. 5 fragrance - so called as it was the fifth attempt at creating a Chanel perfume that Coco Chanel liked - and the popular Chanel suit, an elegant creation comprised of a knee-length skirt and trim, boxy jacket, traditionally made of woven wool with black trim and gold buttons and worn with large costume-pearl necklaces.
After Chanel No. 5 was launched in 1921, Coco Chanel's fashions became well-known and were purchased by the high flyers of London and Paris society alike. Chanel took to living at the Hotel Ritz, and her suite of residence is named the Coco Chanel Suite even today.
Chanel is also known for its quilted fabric which also has a "secret" quilting pattern sewn at the back to keep the material strong. This material is used for clothing and accessories alike.
The Chanel logo is an overlapping double 'C' - one facing forward and the other facing backward. This comes from the name Coco Chanel. The logo was not trademarked until during the first openings of Chanel stores. Chanel is currently trying to deal with their logo being illegally used on cheaper goods, especially on fake handbags. Countries said to be producing great numbers of fake Chanel handbags are Vietnam, Thailand and China. An authentic Chanel handbag retails for around AU$3700, while fakes usually cost around AU$30-100, creating a demand for the signature style at a cheaper price.
Another famous item is the Chanel 2.55 handbag with its quilted pattern. The bag was first launched in the early 20th century and every year the design of the bag is renewed due to the popularity of the handbag.
Much of Chanel's success is due to the two world wars. Government wanted women to wear simpler, less extravagant clothing, and due to this and Coco Chanel's thriving sense of fashion, the trademark flourished. Chanel was a pioneer during the early 20th century development and uprise in fashion.
Chanel is known to burn its leftover stock as it does not want it to be sold cheaply (wrecks reputation) and does not want to be given away. This is much to the dismay of many. Reasons are that it keeps the Chanel trademark to the few upper-class personnel and does not want confusion of about the concerning of quality.
During the early 20th century Chanel was especially known for its quality and innovation. Legend has it that once, when feeling cold, Coco Chanel placed a man's sailor jumper around her neck. Later, when women told her how wonderful she looked in her new woolen shawl, Coco Chanel realized she had started a trend. After Chanel became a high fashion trademark, many brands mimicked her designs; the only difference between the two items is often the higher quality of the Chanel brand.
During World War II, Coco Chanel's relationship with Hans Gunther von Dincklage created controversy. Dincklage was a Nazi officer and was rumored to be Chanel's lover during the occupation of France.
Learn more at the Chanel website.
Designer Definition (from U.S Department of Labor)