Coco Chanel isn’t so much my style icon as my feminist fashion transformation hero. She completely turned the way women wore clothes around from a fashion landscape in which things were fundamentally uncomfortable. Of course, her work isn’t necessarily done. Success in the fashion world will be reached when people have finally reached a point at which anything they can imagine is wearable, which may or may not ever actually happen.
What catalyzed this transformation was the genius of her design. Her real fashion design genius was in making simplified, plain clothes look chic. Chanel incorporated fabrics like jersey and knits, which would usually be reserved for nothing but pajamas, into her elegant womenswear collections.
Although I don’t normally like quintessentially “Chanel” looks like tweed suits or bags with chain straps or two toned shoes that look like spats, I love that she was able to create elegance out of something that was not usually intended for polite company, which was a dream come true for a lot of women.