Coco’s stage years were a colourful time, with plenty of parties and lovers. Two affairs in particular would provide the springboard she needed into fashion. The first was with Étienne Balsan, a cavalry officer from a wealthy family, and soon they were living together, with Coco relishing his affection and gifts. However, Coco’s heart was soon captured by another man, Étienne’s friend ‘Boy’ Capel, with whom she began a passionate affair and eloped to Paris, leaving behind a heartbroken Balsan. In typical Coco fashion, she turned a difficult situation to her advantage, with both men eventually agreeing to fund her new business venture. Chanel’s empire had begun.