Celebrities in Switzerland: Coco Chanel
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Chanel, Coco (1883 - 1971) France / Businessman / VD

The empress of fashion lived in upper Lausanne for ten years. Gabrielle Chanel was born in 1883 in a hospice in Saumur. Her mother was abandoned by her vagabond husband the very day of their marriage. At the age of 12, Gabrielle lost her mother and found herself in an orphanage.

When she was 20, she was hired to work in a hosier's shop. With this experience behind her, she opened her first fashion store in Paris in 1910 and then founded a maison de couture in Biarritz in 1915. The First World War gave way to the Roaring Twenties: woman were becoming liberated and the Chanel designs were a phenomenal success. Women everywhere wanted to look like "Coco" Chanel.

But the Chanel fashion house had to close down in 1939, just before the German invasion. When the war was over, Coco Chanel decided to move to Switzerland, in upper Lausanne on the shores of Lake Geneva. She went for beauty treatments at the Valmont Clinic and could often be found at the Steffen tea room in upper Montreux, a meeting place for many celebrities.

In 1954, at the age of 71, Mademoisellemade her comeback to center stage and presented her Chanel collection. The Chanel success and style emerged as a symbol of the modern and alluring woman. Coco Chanel died in 1971 at the age of 88. She is buried in Lausanne; her tomb is surrounded by five stone lions.

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