Coco Chanel: a Business Woman ahead of her time

  • By The Alchemist About Town
  • 02 Jan, 2017

#TheWomanAlchemist #Feature

Welcome to my new feature monthly blog covering Women in Business who have inspired me, in the past and in the present. These are my personal choice, women I have looked up to as examples, beacons of what is possible to achieve if you are really determined; they are not perfect women by any means, but I am who I am today because of them, so this is my thank you.

The featured woman for this month is Coco Chanel as the 10 January marks the anniversary of her death ( 19 August 1883 - 10 January 1971) so it seemed like a good one to start with. She was the founder and namesake of the Chanel brand and a business woman ahead of her time , catapulted to social prominence in French high society, thanks to the connections she made through her work. These included many artists to whom she became a patron.
With her trademark suits and little black dresses, Coco Chanel created timeless designs that are still popular today. She herself became a style icon known for her simple yet sophisticated outfits paired with great accessories, such as costume pearls ( and lots of them). As Chanel once said,“luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.”

Chanel was credited with liberating women from the constraints of the corset and popularising a sporty, casual chic as the feminine standard of style ( Ralph Lauren & Michael Kors come to mind here non?).
Chanel also extended her influence beyond couture clothing, realising her design aesthetic in jewellery, handbags, and fragrance. Her signature scent, Chanel No. 5, has become an iconic product. She is the only fashion designer listed on TIME magazine's list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

There are many rumors/allegations about Chanel's activities in the course of the German occupation of France during World War II,and she was criticised for being too comfortable with the Germans.One of Chanel's lovers was a German military officer, Hans Gunther von Dinklage.After the war ended, Chanel was interrogated about her relationship with von Dincklage, but she was not charged as a collaborator. After several years in Switzerland after the war, she returned to Paris and revived her fashion house.
When her biographer ( well one of many) Hal Vaghan's book was published in August 2011, his disclosure of the contents of recently de-classified military intelligence documents generated considerable controversy about Chanel's activities. The House of Chanel issued a statement which "refuted the claim" (of espionage), "What's certain is that she had a relationship with a German aristocrat during the War. Clearly it wasn't the best period to have a love story with a German even if Baron von Dincklage was English by his mother and she (Chanel) knew him before the War."

I'm not a biographer and my intent here is not to narrate her life's story, there are many books covering it already  ( Amazon is a good place to find them).
I can summarise what Chanel has meant and means to me as a woman/business woman, beside the obvious iconic bags, fashion, custom jewellery etc. etc, by  using a couple of her famous phrases " My life didn't please me, so I created my life"  and " A girl should be two things: who and what she wants"  plus " The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud".  
 
Yes, she had lovers who helped her, (and she repaid them back) so what? If a man had done the same would we question his genius and achievements ? 
Yes, one of her lovers was a German officer during the war, not an inspired choice, I know, but she was not charged with espionage or any other crimes and I follow the principle of innocent until proven guilty, and she was not proven guilty ( and we do know that post WWII in France collaboration was a big deal - and still is).

It is easy to judge  from the comfort of our sitting room with a nice cup of tea , with the wisdom of now and from a point of safety...

This is a woman born into poverty, at a time when women where not exactly on equal footing with men, who built a property and fashion empire and whose legacy and influence is still visible today.
This is why Coco Chanel is one of my heroes,  for showing me that Yes I can be who and what I want and I can create my life exactly as I want it to be.

Mademoiselle Chanel, Je vous remercie xxx

The People Alchemist Blog

By The Alchemist About Town 22 Sep, 2017
I am so utterly delighted that my book is now out, available to order both on paperback and on Kindle edition just in time for Business Women's Day - YES!!!!!! :-) 

STOP IT! It's all in your head   is my labour of love and my way to encourage, inspire and empower women to achieve what they want professionally and not be confined by societal, religious, family paradigms of what " women should do/are like" and, most importantly, the restrictions in their head.
If that is being CEO of a Global Company or a stay-at-mum or Director of Paperclip ( whatever grabs your fancy) so be it.

Writing this book was also a personal challenge ( the 30 days thingy) which confirmed to me once and for all that you can really do whatever you set your mind to, if you really want to that is.

Couple of tips for writing a book from me:
  • write about what you are passionate about, you know more than you think.
  • free-write about the parts/chapters in the book you like the most and you are most interested in first - that will give you a great boost at the beginning - you can edit and add the boring bits later - by then most of the book will be almost there
  • keep your own voice - write as you speak so to speak ( people do need to understand you though..)
  • keep an open mind, ideas will flow into you mid-way through the project
  • a deadline and going public is good to beat procrastination ( but if that stresses you out too much don't do it) - the deadline certainly helped me.
You can do it too!!!

If anyone would like to be part of the book launch, the event is live on Eventbrite and you can buy an Early Bird ticket now:
SMASH YOUR CEILING - #STOPITBookLaunch 
Thursday 12 October at 18.30
Business Design Centre
Islington
London

To pre- e-meet other super fab women in business attending the event, please use the following hashtags:
#SMASHYOURCEILING
#STOPITBookLaunch
#BDCWorks

I'm so excited about this book and I genuinely hope you will like it- I hope to meet you soon, in person or through the pages of my book.

Laura x


#Hustle #GirlBoss #SmashThatCeiling
  #SmashYourCeiling
STOP IT! It's all in your head 
#dreambig #believe #youcan



By The Alchemist About Town 19 Sep, 2017
The time is getting closer and closer to the release of   STOP IT, It's all in your head   my new book ( 22 September for Business Women's Day - US) .

I have now  received the proof copy of the paperback which looks absolutely fabulous: a couple of things to correct but overall I am super happy with the result.
A lot of marketing to do now between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ ( which is PS: looking like more work than the actual writing of the book).

The book event/launch/talk is live on Eventbrite and you can buy an Early Bird ticket now:
SMASH YOUR CEILING - #STOPITBookLaunch 
Thursday 12 October at 18.30
Business Design Centre
Islington
London

To pre- e-meet other super fab women in business attending the event, please use the following hashtags:
#SMASHYOURCEILING
#STOPITBookLaunch
#BDCWorks

I'm so excited about this book and I genuinely hope you will like it.

Laura x


#Hustle #GirlBoss #SmashThatCeiling
  #SmashYourCeiling
STOP IT! It's all in your head 
#dreambig #believe #youcan



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