Popularly known as Coco Chanel or "Mademoiselle" by her inner circle, she was born in the small city of Saumur, France in 1883, although she asserted she was born in 1893, in Auvergne. Her mother died when she was six, and shortly afterward her father abandoned her and her four siblings; the Chanel children were then placed in the care of relatives and spent some time in an orphanage. After a couple affairs with generous wealthy men - a military officer and later an English Industrialist - she was able to open a shop in Paris in 1909, selling ladies hats and within a year moved the business to the fashionable Rue Cambon. Her influence on haute couture was such that she was the only person in the field to be named on the List of TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people of the 20th century.
Two of her most famous creations are Chanel No. 5 perfume, launched in 1923, and the influential Chanel suit, an elegant suit comprising 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. She also popularized the little black dress, whose blank-slate versatility allowed it to be worn for day and evening, depending on how it was accessorized. Although unassuming black dresses existed before Chanel, the ones she designed were considered the haute couture standard. In 1923, she told Harper's Bazaar that "simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance."
I once read that she's doing that pose in the last picture to draw attention to the movement of the sleeve. She thought the fit of a sleeve was really important and she would rip it off a jacket numerous times before she was satisfied.
The great fashion designer Gabrielle Chanel 1883-1971 self styled herself to be known as Coco Chanel. By 1920 the silhouette of her clothing designs have come to be the epitome of 20's style. The work of other famous designers beside hers seemed old fashioned and outmoded belonging as they did to the pre World War One era.
She promoted the styles we associate with flappers. She worked in neutral tones of beige, sand, cream, navy and black in soft fluid jersey fabrics cut with simple shapes that did not require corsetry or waist definition. They were clothes made for comfort and ease in wear making them revolutionary and quite modern. [www.fashion-era.com]