Russia played an important role in the life of the legendary Coco Chanel. We will tell you what influence the Russians had on her fate and what the French couturier owes to them.
Coco Chanel freed women of fashion from tight corsets and huge hats with feathers. She gave women the fashion for short haircuts, the famous perfume number five and, of course, the “comfortable elegance” style. She was not afraid to break the rules established by centuries - this was her success. Gabrielle created under the motto: "You need to create what I would wear myself." No tight-fitting dresses that do not allow you to breathe and move freely. No bulky hats that didn't save you from the sun in summer, but made you die from the heat.
Did you know that such a bright, intense and at the same time difficult life path of Chanel more than once connected her with Russian culture, which had a considerable influence on the creativity of the couturier herself? It all started with an acquaintance with Misey Sert, the owner of fashionable French salons, who in Paris was then called "the devourer of talents". They became close friends with Coco. Misya herself, by the way, was born in St. Petersburg. She also introduced her friend to the Russian, whose name at that time thundered throughout Europe - Sergei Diaghilev.
With Dyag, as Misya called him, and then Chanel herself, they became good friends. Gabrielle joined the Russian Seasons team - she created costumes for Cocteau's Antigone and Diaghilev's Blue Express, and also helped the troupe financially. Sergei instilled in the French couturier a love of Russian ballet and culture, Coco once confessed: “I learned to really work with the Russians. I was not a bum and did nothing carelessly, but what was happening behind the scenes of the Diaghilev Ballet was shocking. There I saw how you can perish and rise again with every movement, because it is from this that it becomes perfect, how for the sake of creativity you can and should forget yourself. I realized that this is how and only how the immortal appears."
Much later, in 1967, Serge Lifar, one of the artists of the Russian Seasons, introduced Coco to Maya Plisetskaya. In her atelier on Rue Cambon, Chanel arranged a fashion show for the two of them, and then asked the ballerina to walk the catwalk in her outfits. The couturier concluded: "Now I believe Serge that you are a great ballerina."
An important role in the life and work of the Great Mademoiselle was played by the Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich and his sister Maria. In exile in Paris, it was not easy for them. Gabrielle offered the princess to head an embroidery workshop in her fashion house. Clothes embroidered in Russian style were sold out instantly. It was a success. Chanel had a stormy romance with Dmitry Pavlovich. And it was the prince who gave her his own fragrance, which is known to us under the name "Chanel No. 5". More precisely, Dmitry Pavlovich introduced Coco to the perfumer Ernest Bo, who created the legendary perfume.
The prince was a source of useful acquaintances. He introduced the Paris-based designer to film producer Sam Goldwyn, who was from Russia. Then Coco Chanel was surprised: "It already seemed to me that all talented people had Russian roots." Thanks to Goldwyn, collaboration with famous actresses began: Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Romy Schneider and many others.
And these are by no means all the situations when life confronted the Great Mademoiselle with the Russians. It is difficult to disagree that they played a significant role in the work of the legendary couturier, because Chanel devoted a whole chapter to them in her memoirs.
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