This is my favorite photo of Coco Chanel. I love the cool confidence in her eyes, her carefully styled hair, the creamy strands of pearls casually piled up on her shoulders. Heck, I even like the way she's defiantly pointing her cigarette at us, daring us to question her.

In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different. - Coco Chanel

It's a photograph of a woman who has confidence - in her intelligence, her taste, her femininity. The picture of a lady in her lipstick and pearls, she's also as cuddly as a porcupine. The magic of being a girl is that you can run the world in earrings and heels, if you choose.

It's a beautiful picture and, in my eyes, it's enhanced by the obvious colorization. I love colorized photos! They're much more honest than the photo-shopped atrocities that get passed on as the truth nowadays. We all know that no living human being is actually that flawless in appearance - the colorization is more art than journalism, although when I was little I thought that the past really was saturated in color.

Here's the non-colorized picture. It's still beautiful, just not as striking:

Elegance is refusal. - Coco Chanel

Chanel's life story is quite interesting, and while she made some questionable choices, I think that the essence of her story is inspiring. How she became an orphan and learned to sew from the nuns who raised her. How she rebelled and became a cabaret singer (which earned her the "Coco" nickname). How the rich women around her mocked her for being skinny in a time when voluptuousness was the ideal, and for not wearing the expensive and complicated clothes that were fashionable at the time.

How instead of striving for what she couldn't have, she made the most with what she did. When a wealthy suitor offered her anything she wanted, she opted for a lease instead of diamonds. How she opened her shop, and designed clothes made out of inexpensive and wearable materials that would fit and flatter her skinny frame. How her famous "little black dress" was inspired by the shapeless frocks of the nuns from that orphanage from so long ago. How she freed women from the corseted and petticoated clothes she was supposed to aspire to.

The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud. - Coco Chanel

The photo above is from the same 1936 photoshoot. I like that picture too because it shows a less stylized, more relaxed Chanel. She was in her fifties by then, and while I love the colorized and airbrushed photo I also appreciate the beauty of reality.

More photos and quotes after the jump

(Photo credits: Parisenimage)


Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury - Coco Chanel


How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone. - Coco Chanel


Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity. - Coco Chanel