Founded in 1909, Chanel is a French luxury brand that specializes in women’s fashion, in products such as haute couture, ready-to-wear, handbags, watches, fragrances, and makeup. It also produces luxury goods. Chanel is a privately held luxury brand and is owned by the brothers Gerard and Alain Wertheimer. Valued at $12.8B, Chanel is headquartered in Paris and makes sales of around $13.7B.
The US is Chanel’s biggest market for its beauty business, and China comes at the second. One-third of all of Chanel’s sales are made in the US, France and China. Chanel is well-known for its “little black dress,” the perfume “Chanel No. 5,” and for the Chanel Suit. Chanel has over 20,000 employees and ranks 52nd on Forbes’ list of World’s Most Valuable Brands 2020. Although Chanel is a luxury brand, its lipsticks and nail polishes have been consistently made available to everyone.
How It All Began
Chanel was founded by a French fashion designer, Gabrielle Chanel, who is better known by the name Coco Chanel. Chanel started as a fashion house when Coco Chanel opened up her first shop in Paris, selling hats. She attributed her success to an old jersey that she had worn on a chilly day in Deauville. Many people asked her where she had gotten that jersey, and she offered to make them one, too. Growing up in an orphanage as a child, she learnt knitting from nuns – a skill that became the foundation of her empire.
Chanel Under Coco Chanel
Already popular in the Parisian fashion world by 1921, most of Coco Chanel’s hugely successful designs and products were introduced in the 1920s, making it possible for her to expand her business globally. She launched her first perfume, Chanel No. 5, in the 1920s, which was a huge success, and remains a classic to this day. In 1924, she launched her global cosmetics line, followed by a range of skincare products in 1929.
In 1925, she introduced the Chanel Suit, and the little black dress was designed in the 1920s as well. Most of Coco Chanel’s success rests on her revolutionary clothes designs, where she borrowed elements from men’s clothing and used those to emphasize feminine boldness. She made dresses from dark, typically masculine colors such as navy blue and grey, she changed the perception around the color black – seen as a mourning color until then, and above all, she went against the fashion of the times to introduce comfort and function in clothing.
She was able to single-handedly revolutionize both high fashion and everyday fashion with the use of jersey material in clothes that complimented the feminine form as well as made daily activities easy, and completely replaced the dresses of the time, which utilized corsets and bodices to create structured silhouettes.
Chanel’s business had started to suffer during the depression of the 1930s, but things got so bad after WWII that she had to close down her business entirely in 1939. She lived for some years in Switzerland after the war but made a triumphant return to the fashion world in the early 1950s. Her easy-fitting and feminine designs soon won over the market.
Chanel Under Karl Lagerfeld
Coco Chanel died in 1971. A decade after her death, in 1983, Karl Lagerfeld took over as the designer at her company. As the creative director of the brand, Karl Lagerfeld was able to successfully revive Coco Chanel’s vision, as well as introduce new elements and designs of his own. From 1983 to his death in 2019, he was successful in keeping Chanel at the pinnacle of the fashion world.
Karl was 50 when he was asked by the Wertheimer family to take over the helm of Chanel. Under Lagerfeld, Chanel grew to become a $10 billion global brand. He preserved Chanel’s image as the brand of ultimate luxury by giving attention to intricate details in product making. To improve product quality, he supported embroidery workshops and sponsored tweed makers.
Karl Lagerfeld had an over-the-top attitude towards fashion. He helped reimagine fashion as a theatrical presentation, conducting over 180 fashion shows in his 35 years with Chanel. Karl helped bring attention to Chanel’s clothes by creating looks for celebrities for grand events such as Academy Awards. He was able to make Chanel more chic, luxurious, fashionable, and profitable.
It was under his creative direction at Chanel that China became the second greatest market for Chanel. In 2018, Chanel’s sales rose by 11% due to shoppers in Asia. After Lagerfeld’s death, Virginie Viard was appointed the creative director of Chanel.
Let us look at some cosmetics products by Chanel.
Created in 1921, N°5 has always been associated with the essence of femininity. It has an abstract floral essence that has many subtle notes to it. The scent is mysterious and extravagantly rich. Drawing inspiration from the Parfum, Eau de Parfum makes use of aldehydes, which add complex layers to its scent. Eau de Parfum has a floral aldehyde signature, and features top notes of bright citrus, along with heart notes of May Rose and Jasmine. The base notes of Bourbon Vanilla give the scent an alluring and sensual trail.
First formulated by Ernest Beaux, the composition was later revised by Jacques Polge in 1986 to create a more voluminous version of the original scent, which is and has always been, an inherently feminine fragrance.
A face revitalizing serum, Blue Serum is lightweight, nourishing, and helps keep the skin young, firm, and healthy. Through extensive research in different regions of the world, Chanel chose longevity-boosting ingredients to create a skincare formula that boosts skin health. The serum contains potent antioxidant molecules extracted from Costa Rica’s green coffee that help shield the complexion. Italian Bosana leaves provide essential fatty acids and polyphenols to fortify the skin, and Grecian Lentisk, which is passed through CO2 Supercritical Extraction, provides Oleanolic Acid that stimulates the skin’s own restorative action.
Within four weeks of using the serum, the skin becomes smoother, firmer, and more even, with a 35% decrease in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The serum should be applied every morning and evening to the skin after cleansing.
The Vitalumiere Aqua is an ultra-light foundation that comes with SPF 15 protection. Its texture is soft and water-light, and it can give a light to medium coverage to the skin. It contains “High Definition Light” pigments that make your skin even and radiant, while Hyaluronic acid helps maintain skin moisture. The fluid foundation makes for an exquisite makeup experience as it not only gives your skin a natural glow but also refreshes it.
Its broad-spectrum SPF 15 protection means you are safe from UV rays when moderately exposed to the sun. For applying the foundation, start by moisturizing and priming your skin. Shake the bottle before use, then use your fingertips to gently pat it into the skin or use a brush to stipple it onto the face. Blend the foundation from the center of your face to outwards.
A smoothening and firming eye cream, Le Lift Crème Yeux is a delicate product that helps you achieve a more naturally youthful and radiant appearance. The cream contains several active ingredients that give it its beneficial qualities. Botanical Alfalfa Concentrate is combined with a Phyto-Active Complex, which has been infused with Indian Chestnut Extract and Yeast Extract. The ingredients combine to help reduce dark circles and puffiness, and smooth wrinkles and fine lines.
Le Gel Sourcils is a long-wear eyebrow gel that defines the brows and holds them in place, giving you a natural look. The formula is comfortable and long-lasting, and the gel comes in three tints, transparent, brown, and blonde. The cone-shaped brush makes it easy to apply the gel precisely. To apply the gel, start at the inner corner of your brow, and continue applying along the full brow using short strokes in the direction of hair growth. The gel may be worn alone or after filling in the brows with a brow pencil or a brow powder.
Available in 28 colors, the Rogue Coco is a vivid lip color that provides complete coverage with a creamy finish and is yet lightweight. The formula provides long-lasting hydration, a luminous shine, and contains a complex of ingredients like Sunflower Wax, Jojoba and Mimosa Butters, and Silicone. The vibrant shades of the Rogue Coco feature lip shades inspired by Coco Chanel and the artists and friends she was inspired by.
Before applying the lip color, line and fill in your lips with a lip pencil in a matching shade, then either apply the Rogue Coco directly to your lips or make use of the Retractable Lip Brush.
Le Tonique is an anti-pollution toner that comforts, refreshes, and invigorates the skin. The toner cleanses the skin and perfectly tones it and is a valuable addition to your daily skincare rituals. The Marine Salicornia Extract moisturizes the skin, and fortifies it, while Blue Micro-Algae protects your skin from polluting agents. Le Tonique should be applied with a cotton pad in the morning and evening. In the morning, it will awaken your skin while in the evening, it will remove the trace amounts of pollutants and makeup from the skin and soothe it.
Chanel is one of the only few privately-owned global luxury brands. From haute couture, ready-to-wear, perfumes, accessories, and cosmetics to luxury goods, it has made its mark on the global luxury industry. It has built a dedicated clientele for its select luxury items, and also caters to everyday consumers through its cosmetics products.