Sketch by Karl Lagerfeld
The Allure Of Chanel, Pushkin Press


Coco Chanel was born Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel on 19 August 1883 to an unmarried laundry woman and market-stall holder. Her childhood was far from glamorous, but one tainted by frugality and hardship. In later years, she tried to cover up her humble beginnings by lying about her place of birth, claiming she was born in the upmarket French town of Auvergne, not the poorer city of Saumur.