Final Project: Chanel: Now and Forever


Gabrielle “CoCo” Chanel’s name is unanimous throughout the world. After a dismal acting career in her early twenties, Chanel turned her sights to design. In 1921, Chanel opened her own boutique on 31 Rue Cambon. After nearly a decade, Chanel began designing and styling French aristocrats, actors and royalty. Chanel is branded as one of the most influential designers ever; she shifted the history of fashion through her classic cuts and her take on how women should both dress and behave. From her numerous takes on the “little black dress” to her notorious No. 5 perfume worn by the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Nicole Kidman, Coco has reigned as one of the fashion worlds connoisseur’s for over a century. This digital analog  will portray how Coco Chanel’s influence transformed the history of fashion throughout the past decades and how it continues to do so through this day.

“Before she changed the face of fashion with her haute couture dresses, sophisticated suits and luxury fragrances, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel was a poor girl who came from humble beginnings.” (

Unlike a war or the reconstruction of a city, Chanel’s brand has spanned throughout the past eighty-some years into a global market making her one of the most sought after brands ever. Today, her timeless products including bags, jewelry, scarves, and shoes are featured in over 120 stores and pop-up shops worldwide.

It all began in the City of Light: Paris, France in the 1920’s. This is a map of Paris from the early 1900’s compared to a map of Paris today. Chanel’s iconic studio is located on 31 Rue Cambon which sits atop a Chanel boutique, and is now used for press, fashion shows, and private cliental ( The boutique is one of the most sought after tourist attractions for fashion lovers and it is open for public touring-a must see for any fan of the brand!

This photo features Chanel herself in the living space of 31 Rue Cambon.

“Elegance is not the prerogative of those who have just escaped from adolescence  but of those who have already taken possession of their future.” -Coco Chanel

(Screen shot of 31 Rue Cambon, Paris, France 2012)

This link gives a live tour of Chanel’s apartment giving fans an inside look of where she designed, entertained her guests, and lived. Displaying elegant light fixtures, posh furniture and the famous mirrored staircase where she would watch over her workers,  Coco also used this swirling staircase as a platform to display each season’s ready-to-wear garments.


Global Influence:

The importance of Chanel’s brand began when it merged the fashion world with the modern woman in the early 1930-40’s. Notably one of the first women to sport trousers, Coco made this a key piece in every French women’s wardrobe.  Her use of sharp shapes and jersey fabrics helped her to appeal to many women at the time who were accustomed to wearing skirts that swept the ground and corsets. Aside from the LBD (little black dress) Chanel’s brand was centered on a few key pieces:

  • The Tweed Suit
  • The Quilted Handbag
  • Costume Jewelry
The timelessness of her quilted handbag themselves with their CC logo and chain strap setting, help land the brand a gross annual income between 2-3 billion dollars ( According to Amanda Mull of the blog,, “So many designers have been “inspired” by the flap – if you’re going to pay big bucks, get the original: Everyone from Urban Outfitters to Marc Jacobs has been accused of stealing from Chanel’s signature bag, and there’s a good reason for that – it’s timeless, iconic and still as relevant to luxury customers today as it was back in the 1950s.”
I wanted to search how many books and publication from 1920-2012 mentioned either “Chanel” or “Coco Chanel” in both English and French and the Ngram’s below display the following-with English on top and French below it.

What is interesting about this is that both the search in English and French sparked more numbers after the 1970’s, and continued to grow in popularity through the second half of the twentieth century. Chanel died in January of 1971. Her brand was then taken over by Karl Lagerfeld in 1983. Here is a search on Time’s Magazine Corpus  of “Lagerfeld post 1980 in comparison to Coco herself. Lagerfeld has been mentioned a total of 40 times throughout the corpus from the 1980’s on. This is helpful in displaying the longevity that Chanel’s brand has had in not only fashion but literature and popular culture.

Chanel’s clothing and accessories are still vital agents of many upscale magazine editorials including Vogue, Vanity Fair and The New York Time’s Style monthly issues. With celebrity endorsements as well as a global following, a classic Chanel piece is often coveted by anyone who follows fashion. Her pieces range from the low $1,000’s upwards of $100,000-which goes to show the demand her brand still carries to this day.

Lagerfeld himself is acclaimed in the fashion industry. Seen as somewhat of a rock star, Lagerfeld has redesigned the brand to make it more edgy by adding twists on Chanel’s classic concepts. Though, staying true to its roots, the brand itself has the mass appeal to all age groups and editors alike.

Karl Lagerfeld leading his model pack at the end of one of Chanel’s latest runway shows in Paris, France.

Chanel will live on as the most luxurious brand in the world. Coco Chanel is not only an icon, she was a pioneer for every major designer now and in the future.

The Stability of Historical Archives

After exploring the digital archives of September 11th and April 16th, two dates that shifted America’s stances on terrorism, fear, gun control, and security, I found the concept of storing this information to be crucial for historical and personal purposes.

Many of us remember these days to be chaotic and somber, many of us had family and friends who were directly affected by these very tragic and life changing events, and I feel that presenting these facts in an archive that is accessible to all, is very important to the history of our country as well as the history of our families and friends.

With technology being so present over the past decade, it only makes sense that scholars, authors, photographers, journalists  and historians felt it necessary to preserve these events in a way that all of the information is present and can be accessed at any given time.

I went through the Library of Congress’ Digital Preservation guidelines, directions, and facts, and I thought about what events in my life, if given the chance, I would digitally archive. When one thinks about their families history and origins, many of us never really stop to think about what we would pause or want to reflect on fifty years from now.

I would probably start with the migration of my mom’s family to the United States from Italy. My family’s roots run very deep in Italian culture and costumes and I would like to explore more about my great-grandmother’s journey and what her life was like before she left for the United States.

There are so many things that I would like digitally archived but it all comes down to how much we are willing to share and make public. I think technology has changed that for many because within the Internet and online databases, almost all things are now public.


Ngram Throughout the Years

I worked with the Ngram tool this weekend to see how it worked, but after our discussion on Monday, I understand more how this data is construed. I found the word ‘religion’ to be particularly interesting when it was matched with the word ‘science’ because of the change from a very spiritual and theological society to the age of science and the revolution that proceeded it. Because the shift happened over time, and with that shift many felt that their beliefs were being challenged by philosophers, I wanted to see the spikes in which these words were mentioned in literature and if it coincided with the majority of beliefs during a specific time period.

From 1800 to the early 1900’s religion was mentioned a significant amount of times peaking at about 1828. When I clicked on the on the actual books that were written during that period, most centered around Christianity, which is no surprise. Then, when I capitalized the “R” is religion, the the peak was at about 1810, and was steady throughout the next two hundred years.







I then searched the word “science” and “Science” to see the difference in mentions. “Science” spiked after the 1930’s where as “science” was consistently mentioned throughout the whole graph.







I never really thought about the difference of structure of words or how meanings have changed to this degree before this project. I think it is beneficial to be more aware of how words are used in certain publications and historical databases. I think this will help me a lot during my project because I am researching historical documents, pictures, graphs, etc. dealing with fashion, I will have to pay more attention to the old context surrounding the word compared to the present use and the words that accompany it.

Digital Collections and Corpus

I had viewed Time’s Magazine Corpus for another exercise previously this semester. I find the search engine to be somewhat fascinating but somewhat dry. The information available is useful and interesting, though, the format of the website could use some creativity..

So I then proceeded to explore Google’s Ngram Viewer which graphs key words or names in books from the 1800’s on, and where these spats of information can be found in texts. If you click on a particular name, such as Coco Chanel, then the link directs you to the books that feature that name is some way, like a biography or a fashion related novel.

Thinking about the abundance of information available on the web is somewhat overwhelming and also a little dizzying. I find these search engines to be useful, though, the amount of time trying to navigate the information you need can ultimately end up to be frustrating.

After exploring these engines I read “From Babel to Knowledge” which I found more interesting because it not only explained how digital information is gathered and used, but it also explained how it is compiled behind the scenes. Academia strives to make sense of all of the information available, that the use of API’s only enhances those using the engines experience.

I found the syllabus finder to be very useful considering the time spent on focusing on key concepts throughout a class.

With the abundance of information on the web it is time to condense these search technique to make it easier to navigate information and get detailed summaries of what we are trying to find on the web.

Fashion’s Finest Moments in History

When we think of history, many of us do not associate war, trade and longevity with fashion. Though, for someone who follows and admires the industry, like myself, I have found that many of our historical and economical ties revolve somewhat around fashion.

Suede, velvet, and cotton all have historical backgrounds whether it was Marie Antoinette’s excessive dresses or the cotton trade, or the Industrial Revolution and what it meant for production of fashion houses and the boom of department stores.

I decided to do my small powerpoint project on the history of the British fashion label, Burberry. The iconic trench was first worn by soliders in the British army, then made famous by actors and actresses such as Audrey Hepburn, and in 2012, it is still one of the most coveted items by the wealthy and fashion forward.

Here is a glimpse of how this one piece has transitioned through history and continues to sustain popularity, after over 150 years in the public eye.

Historical Chart

I decided to make a chart using the information of two individuals from “Probing the Past.” Their records were ten years apart, one man and one woman. I wanted to measure the differences in their Will’s ranging from costs of furniture to clothing, coffee and food items.

Unfortunately, I still had trouble with making the chart and adding the information to the axises. When I tried to add data to the X axis about the products given away to their families, something was not right.

I think I made this more complicated than need be..



 Montgomerie, Thomas(1793) vs. Ball, Margaret(1783)

PowerPoint Flaws

After reading “PowerPoint is Evil,” by Edward Tufte, and exploring the “Gettysburg PowerPoint,” I would have to agree with many if not all of Tufte’s statements.

I have never been a fan of PowerPoint because I find it distracting, boring and simple. I am not an overly creative person, though, I would rather stand in front of an audience and give a rant than read straight off a screen in bullet format. I find PowerPoints to be for those who  do not like to communicate face to face with audiences. I am no stranger to having nerves when it comes to presentations or speaking about subjects I am not confident in, though, I find PowerPoints to be tedious because no one is actually listening to what you have to say.

The simplicity, the basic coloring, and the pie charts that often accompany PowerPoints are what make them truly unbearable. I am not sure how many times in my academic career I have found myself staring at the same sentence over and over trying to absorb the content that is being presented-when in fact I am totally lost or bored.

I am a firm believer in reading and discussion because I find that people learn more when they are presented with not only numbers or figures, or in the case of PowerPoints, condensed information to make it “easier” to grasp the subject being presented.

I understand the business technique behind PowerPoints. They are short, fast, leave little room for educated discussions, and help people get to their points faster. I am not being totally hypocritical, because I have used my share of power points throughout high school and college, but sometimes I miss the homemade poster board or debate technique that accompanied many of my courses throughout the years.

As far as historical data is concerned, I understand why historians would use PowerPoint to generate discussions or have ground facts present during presentations or projects, but overall I would rather have an interactive discussion about the data than just be present and hope the information is retained in my memory.


Feltron Fascination

When I started to shuffle through Nicholas Felton’s reports, I was trying to decide if I thought this was brilliant or a tad OCD/crazy. Borderline both, I believe that Mr. Felton was way ahead of the game. Think about it, now a days, our Facebook pages and twitter accounts allow us to tell the world what we are doing, eating, seeing and reading. But how many of us actually step back and examine how many boxes of pizza we ate or how many times we left the state on an annual basis?

To chronicle this information, archive it, and publish it for the world to see, only seems like the next logical step. I would love to know how many times I went to the movies, played a certain song on my Itunes or read non school books per year. For someone who loves organization and order, I think this report would be beneficial to most people. I am not sure if I could take it to the extent that he did, though, I do not see the any harm in the process.

Mr. Felton’s progression of information from 2005 to present is somewhat overwhelming. I wonder how long it takes for him to put this information into various charts and tally his findings. His 2010 report showcased his father’s life-a family tree and various maps of Berlin as well as some of his mother’s information such as the number of siblings she had.

Overall, I think this is brilliant. There is so much information we lose year to year because we forget to write it down or recognize the information. For something like your family history to be available in a report that is not only aesthetically pleasing but informational, is something I would love to have in my future to share with my family. The difference between placing this information on facebook or twitter, instead of in a report is the thought process that is behind it and the value that can be transmitted through one of these charts.

Brooklyn, NY 1906-2012

The map I chose to overlay on Google Earth was one of Brooklyn in 1906. I ‘googled’ historic maps of Brooklyn, and this was one of the most detailed I could find. I had never used Google Earth before and thought I would be able to simply place it over the existing burrow.

I was able to line up FT. Green Park, one of the largest in the area with the 1906 map. Though, even when I lessened the transparency, I could not match up the roads or many other land monuments. I feel with practice I will be able to better grasp this system of placing historical data over current maps used city to city.

Here is a screenshot:



“The Difference Slavery Made”

Historical data is one of the most useful tools to determine patterns in our country’s history. Maps, photographs, interviews and speeches are compiled to make connections throughout decades, and make sense of the facts that we may have otherwise overlooked.

Slavery, is such a broad topic that spans throughout centuries and continents. We are told historical stories spanning from the English invading Africa to Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. To examine maps and compare how slavery unfolded in the United States with the North and South, is crucial to understanding the complexities, history and nature of this data.

This article examines the “points of analysis” ranging from the election of 1860 to town development in the Franklin and Augusta counties. The chart takes you through the historical maps and lays down the foundation of the data through points, facts and summaries of the events that occurred during specific years.

“Another approach to understanding the complex interplay between slavery and the forms of emergent modernity might be found closer to the ground, in a detailed comparison of two places which shared virtually everything except slavery.” Having a close comparison of the two counties and the role they played within slavery, demonstrates the importance of when and how slavery came to a close in these Southern counties.

There are distinct importances in marking historical data such as this article did in order to better understand how these things carried throughout history and continued for centuries.  Overall, I found the tools helpful in examining the evidence presented and the information behind the topic.