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French designer and entrepreneur Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel is one of the best-known originators of modern French fashion. Born into a poor family, she was sent to an orphanage when her mother died. She later worked as a seamstress and sang in cabarets, which brought her in contact with wealthy and prominent men. They provided financial backing for her first dress and hat boutiques. Chanel’s sporty designs and informal fabrics resonated with active, professional women. Her versatile “little black dress” is still a wardrobe staple. From clothing, she expanded her empire to include fragrances, jewelry, and handbags. Chanel’s influence on style and culture persists to this day.