Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Modern Languages and Literatures

First Advisor

Charles Batson




Chanel, fashion, design, textiles, women's liberation


The current project sought to analyze the life and work of the designer Coco Chanel. Through investigation into her life course, values, contributions to art, theater, dance, fashion, and women’s rights, it is argued that Chanel embodied the time period in which she lived ; she both influenced, and was influenced by the cultural forces that predominated. Particular attention is paid to the time periods following World War I and World War II, two events that drastically changed artistic aesthetics, social norms, and life values. The post-war eras provided the fuel for the women’s liberation movement, ushering in the idea of the androgynous new woman, or “nouvelle femme.” Chanel embraced this new ideal, liberating the female form from constraints and frivolity, combining masculine and feminine in her designs, encouraging women to be free in life and movement, and adhering to a sense of modernity with a stubborn meticulousness. Her collaborations with such artistic geniuses as Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinksy, and Sergei Diaghilev resulted in unforgettable contributions to the world of dance, theater, and art, and helped move cultural taste and ideals into the 20th century. No one embodied commitment to artistic integrity and modern aesthetics quite like Coco Chanel, and this incredibly determined woman’s impact on the face of fashion, art, and women’s independence continue to be immortalized and idolized today.