Published: 2023-06-22 ǀ Updated: 2023-07-04
Study the financial data for Chanel.
The history of the world-famous fashion house dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, when Coco Chanel opened her first boutique. Since then, the brand, which has always stood for exclusive women's fashion, has revolutionized the fashion world time and again, setting new trends in perfumes, watches, jewelry, and cosmetics. To this day, the company is 100 percent owned by the Wertheimer family, whose financial support launched the company's triumphal march around the globe.
5 Barlow Place London, W1J 6DG United Kingdom
Leena Nair (CEO)
Virginie Viard (Creative Director)
Philippe Blondiaux (CFO)
Olivier Polge (Chief Perfumer)
Fashion (haute couture and ready-to-wear)
Watches & Jewellery
1910: Opening of the first hat boutique
Coco Chanel (born Gabrielle Chanel), then 27 years old, opens her first hat boutique at 21 rue Cambon in Paris under the name Chanel Modes. The boutique, with its simple but sophisticated hats, quickly becomes a popular meeting place for glamorous European actresses.
1913: Second boutique opens in Deauville
Chanel opens a second boutique in Deauville, a seaside resort in Normandy. In keeping with the atmosphere, the following year the young designer added a collection of sportswear in jersey, a material previously used only for men's underwear. The opportunity to show off their bodies in a whole new way quickly made Chanel popular with women all over the country. 1913 was also the year the company was founded.
1915: Boutique in Biarritz
The company's growth continues with the opening of a third boutique in Biarritz. It specializes in haute couture and employs 300 people.
1918: 31 rue Cambon in Paris becomes the brand's headquarters
Chanel acquires the house at 31 rue Cambon in Paris. A boutique, salons and ateliers open their doors. It remains the brand's headquarters to this day. In the following years, Chanel also acquires the house numbers 29, 25, 23 and finally 27. Since 2013, number 19 also belongs to the company.
1921: Chanel No. 5 - the birth of the bestseller
Russian perfumer Ernest Beaux creates the legendary Chanel No. 5 for the house. It is the fifth perfume that Coco Chanel receives for testing. The fragrance immediately becomes a bestseller, revolutionizes perfume history, not least because of its presentation, and remains one of the world's best-selling perfumes for decades, even attracting celebrity fans such as Marilyn Monroe. Pierre Wertheimer and his brother Paul, owners of the international cosmetics group Bourjois from Pantin, provide the financial resources to build the production facilities and the commercial know-how to distribute the perfumes. As a result, they hold 70% of the shares in the perfume division, while Chanel itself holds only 10%. The remaining 20% is owned by Théophile Bader, founder of Galeries Lafayette. Lawsuits filed by Chanel in the 1930s to increase their shares were unsuccessful.
1922: Chanel No. 22 follows No. 5
The world-famous classic Chanel No. 5 is followed by No. 22, but the delicate fragrance, also created by Ernest Beaux, never matches the success of its predecessor.
1924: Launch of the first cosmetics line
The company launches its first line of cosmetics: face powder and lipstick. That same year, the Société des Parfums Chanel is founded in Neuilly-sur-Seine to capitalize on the sale of perfumes. Ernest Beaux becomes the first in-house perfumer. This year also sees the creation of the first jewelry collections, earning Chanel a reputation as the inventor of fashion jewelry.
1925: The Gardenia perfume launches
This perfume is also the result of a collaboration between Chanel and Beaux. The fragrance was relaunched in 1983 and has been part of the Les Exclusifs de Chanel collection since 2007. A milestone in the fashion world this year are the first tweed suits. After discovering the fabric on her travels to Scotland, Chanel reinterpreted it and created a uniform for the ladies of the world. Characteristic of the outfits are the lapel-less jacket, the patch pockets and the lapels decorated with the Chanel logo. A metal chain is sewn into the hem for a perfect fit.
1926: The "Little Black One" sees the light of day
The Ford dress, known as the "little black dress," was born. Characterized by long sleeves, a low waist and a precious pearl necklace, it inspired not only American Vogue but also designers all over the world. That year, the designer also created the first stage costumes for Jean Cocteau and Charles Dullin. The first Chanel boutique, Mayfair, opens in London.
1927: The first skin care line is created
With its first line of 15 skincare products, the company aims to help women achieve a perfect complexion. Cuir de Russie is another fragrance from the house.
1928: Bois des Iles - revolutionary fragrance for women
Bois des Iles Beaux is one of the first women's fragrances with an oriental-woody base. It was a tribute to the love of the exotic and travel at the time.
1931: The leap to Hollywood
At the behest of studio head Sam Goldwyn, Chanel ventured to Hollywood to design clothes for the rising stars of the movie industry. The results were costumes for the films Tonight or Never (1931) and The Greeks Had a Word for Them (1932).
1932: Exhibition of the first pieces of jewelry
Bijoux de Diamants, an exhibition dedicated to the diamond, opens at Chanel's private residence in Paris. In total, more than 45 pieces of jewelry are presented. This lays the foundation for the creation of Chanel Fine Jewelry and Watches in the 1990s.
1939: Closure of the Couture House
During the war, Chanel closed her couture house in Paris. Only the boutique at 31 rue Cambon remains open, selling perfumes and accessories. After the Wertheimer brothers emigrated to the United States during World War II, the aircraft manufacturer Felix Amiot pro forma acquired their shares in the perfume division. After the war, however, Pierre Wertheimer regained his shares without Chanel having the opportunity to change the ownership structure.
1945: The consequences of the Second World War
Before the war, the company had more than 4,000 employees and a network of boutiques throughout France. At the end of the war, only the store at 31 rue Cambon remained. However, thanks to the demand from American soldiers looking for gifts to take home, sales picked up immediately after the end of the war.
1947: Continuation of the cooperation with Wertheimer
After financial problems, Chanel continues its collaboration with Pierre Wertheimer. She receives a one-time payment of 350,000 euros and a continuing 2% share of sales to avoid her going it alone.
1952: Marilyn Monroe wears No. 5
Life magazine dedicates a cover story to Marilyn Monroe this year. When asked what she wears to sleep, the actress replies, "Nothing but Chanel No. 5 and a smile." Three years later, a photo series of Marilyn Monroe and the fragrance is produced by photographer Ed Feingersh, further boosting sales.
1954: Reopening of the Couture House
Nine years after the end of the war, Chanel decided to reopen her house with a fashion show in February. Her first collection begins with a Jersey ensemble with the number 5, which is enthusiastically received by the American press. That same year, Henri Robert succeeds Ernest Beaux as the house's head perfumer. The Wertheimer brothers also took over Bader's 20 percent stake in the company and its fashion division. As a result, Chanel is still wholly owned by the Wertheimers.
1955: The iconic bag 2.55 with quilted seams is launches
After numerous other creations for her couture, Chanel designs the distinctive 2.55 bag with its quilted leather design and gold chain. It quickly becomes the epitome of Chanel style and appears in several collections. That same year, the house introduces Pour Monsieur, the only men's fragrance created during the designer's lifetime. Henri Robert is praised around the world for the sophistication of the woody citrus fragrance.
1957: Two color pumps
Originally designed as a beige leather slingback with a black toe cap, this iconic shoe shortens the foot and visually lengthens the leg. The elastic heel strap makes it especially comfortable to wear. Other designers immediately imitate the iconic piece.
1965: Jacques Helleu becomes artistic director of the perfume division
Jacques Helleu is appointed Artistic Director of the Perfumes & Beauty and Watches & Jewelry Divisions, in charge of the company's image. Under his direction, legendary advertising films are created that always bear the signature of their directors. After Pierre Wertheimer's death, his son Jacques takes over the management of Chanel. Under his leadership, however, the perfume division's sales declines, and the fine fragrances are sometimes found at low prices in American drugstores.
1970: Chanel No. 19 in honor of Coco's birthday
The name No. 19, created by Henri Roberts, refers to Coco Chanel's birthday on August 19.
1971: Death of Coco Chanel
On January 10, 1971, the designer dies at the age of 87. Celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, Jackie Kennedy and Jane Fonda mourn her death, and her posthumous collection is a huge success. In the following two years, Gaston Berthelot, a former fashion designer at Dior, succeeds Chanel.
1973: Further changes in leadership
After Chanel's death, Berthelot's leadership of the house is not convincing. He is succeeded by Yvonne Dudel and Jean Cazaubon, before Jacques' son Alain takes over in 1974. Together with his brother Gerard, they continue to run the company to this day, while Jacques Wertheimer remains a member of the supervisory board until 1978.
1978: Introduction of ready-to-wear fashion
A classic haute couture house from the outset, the house introduces its first ready-to-wear collection, which is exported around the world for the first time, to the delight of its fans. However, Philippe Guibourgé's collection is a moderate success. That same year, Jacques Polge succeeds Henri Robert as the house's perfumer. He creates the fragrances Coco, Coco Mademoiselle, Allure, Chance and Bleu.
1980: Ramon Esparza becomes chief designer
Former Balenciaga student Ramon Esparza follows in the footsteps of the world-famous designer and will design Chanel's collections in the future. However, his designs are also not very innovative and increasingly damage the brand's dusty image. Perfume, makeup and accessories are the main sales drivers at this time. That same year, Wertheimer hired the advertising specialist Kitty D'Alessio, who would later become Chanel's North American chief and forge a link with Karl Lagerfeld. Lagerfeld begins working for the house in late 1982, initially in an advisory capacity.
1983: Beginning of the Karl Lagerfeld era
Karl Lagerfeld is named creative director of Chanel, responsible for designing all haute couture, ready-to-wear and accessories collections. His revolutionary style is already known through his work at Fendi. At Chanel, his unique style gives the brand a new luster and, for the first time since Chanel's death, a clear direction. He introduced the Métiers d'Art collections and the Pre-Collections, created the still-famous ready-to-wear fashions, and brought a new glamour to the Cruise collections. Lagerfeld is also responsible for the popularity of the world-famous CC logo. His second fashion show is already a huge success, according to early reviews. At the time, the eccentric designer's annual salary was estimated at around one million dollars. $1,000,000 in 1983 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $3,000,000 in 2023.
1984: Coco - another perfume sets a milestone
Ines de la Fressange is the first model to sign an exclusive contract with the fashion house. She is also the face of the advertising campaign for the launch of the Coco fragrance.
1985: Acquisition of the first Maison d'Arts
The House acquires its first Maison d'Arts, the button and jewelry atelier Desrues. The first Chanel boutique in the continental United States opens on Rodeo Drive, followed a year later by a store in New York.
1987: The first watch collection is created
The share of accessories in the company's total sales continues to grow. As a result, Chanel launches its first line of watches. The rectangular dial, designed by Jacques Helleu, is inspired by the cap of Perfume No. 5 and the shape of the Place Vendôme. The house's first watch boutique opens at 40 Avenue Montaigne in Paris. In the same year, Karl Lagerfeld, as photographer, creates the first advertising campaign for the company. The face is that of Ines de la Fressange, who has already promoted the Coco perfume.
1990: Egoiste as the second fragrance for men
The original Egoiste perfume revolutionizes men's fragrances. The commercial directed by Jean-Paul Goude also wins the Golden Lion at the 37th International Advertising Film Festival in Cannes. That same year, Chanel launches the Mademoiselle watch, with a five-strand pearl bracelet. In the same year, Claudia Schiffer succeeds Inès de la Fressange as model, until she and Lagerfeld go their separate ways between 1996 and 2000. Inès de la Fressange finally returns in 2010 as the main model for a Chanel show.
1993: Acquisition of the watch manufacture G&F Châtelain
The company acquires G&F Châtelain in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. In the same year, the company launches its jewelry division, Chanel Joaillerie, with the reissue of the Comete necklaces from the 1932 Bijoux de Diamants exhibition. That year, the Chanel Group also acquires a stake in the American fashion brand Isaac Mizrahi, which it sells in 1998.
1995: Prêt-à-porter collection and new nail polish
Helena Christensen and Claudia Schiffer, two supermodels, present the summer 1995 ready-to-wear collection, again photographed by Karl Lagerfeld. The nail polish Rouge Noir No. 18 - a reference to one of Chanel's favorite colors - becomes a huge success.
1996: Turning point in aesthetics
Scottish model Stella Tennant is the face of the fall/winter 1996/97 ready-to-wear collection, and Karl Lagerfeld's choice of her androgynous style heralds a shift in aesthetic conventions. The Chanel Group acquires a stake in the British arms manufacturer Holland & Holland and launches its own hunting collection. A joint venture with the Frédéric Fekkai hair salon chain is launched in 1996 and 1997.
1997: Virinie Viard becomes head of haute couture
Virginie Viard joins Chanel in 1987 as an intern. Ten years later, she became head of the Haute Couture embroidery department and two years after that, head of the Ready-to-Wear department. The same year sees the opening of the City Palace at 18 Place Vendôme, dedicated exclusively to the House's jewelry and watchmaking creations. The Chanel Group acquires a stake in the swimwear manufacturer Eres. From this year on, the suppliers that the company gradually acquired are brought together under the umbrella of Paraffection S.A..
1998: Participation in the watch manufacturer Bell & Ross
The Chanel Group acquires shares in the watch manufacturer Bell & Ross.
1999: Françoise Montenay becomes CEO
Wertheimer relinquishes his executive position in favor of Françoise Montenay, who will lead the company as CEO and President, while Wertheimer will remain Chairman only.
2000: Chanel's first sports watch
With the J12, the company presents its first sports watch in black ceramic. The same year sees the first Cruise Collection 2000/2001 fashion show, which becomes a regular event under the direction of Karl Lagerfeld. For the first time in its history, Chanel presents a small selection of menswear on the catwalk.
2001: The perfume Coco Mademoiselle
Kate Moss is the face of the campaign for the new oriental fragrance with an exclusive patchouli note. Although the company has not yet released consolidated figures, sales at the beginning of the new millennium are estimated at around USD 2 billion.
2002: Promotion of traditional craftsmanship
While other companies are concentrating their production more and more on machine manufacturing, Chanel acquires no less than eight specialized companies that stand out for their quality craftsmanship. These were Desrues (metalwork), Lemarié (floristry and featherwork), Maison Michel (millinery), Massaro (shoemaking), Goossens (goldsmithing), Maison Lesage (embroidery), Guillet (floral accessories) and Atelier Montex (embroidery), which are grouped together in the Paraffection subsidiary. Their signature is reflected in the Metiers d'Arts collection, which Karl Lagerfeld launches as an annual prêt-à-porter collection outside the official collection calendar as a tribute to craftsmanship. The first collection, Satellite Love, consists of 33 styles presented in the Haute Couture ateliers. Chanel continued its expansion in the United States by opening a jewelry and watch store on Madison Avenue, followed shortly thereafter by a shoe and handbag boutique. By the end of the year, the company has 25 boutiques in the United States. Jacques Polge creates the fragrance Chance and launches it with an advertising campaign shot in Venice. Chance Eau Fraiche (2007), Chance Eau Tendre (2010), and Chance Eau Vive (2015) are interpretations of the fragrance in the following years.
2003: The white J12
Following the international success of the J12 black ceramic watch, Chanel launches another version of the model in white. In the same year, the brand presents the Chocolat watch with a digital movement, the Camelia model and the 1932 watch. Also in this year, Chanel participates for the first time in Baselworld, the World Watch and Jewelry Fair in Basel. The stand is designed by Peter Marino. The Hong Kong flagship store introduces an in-between collection for young women.
2004: Métiers d'Art Show abroad
A Métiers d'Art show is held abroad for the first time, at the Chanel flagship store in Tokyo's Ginza district. In the same year, the perfume Allure Homme Sport is created, reflecting Chanel's fashion and sporty style. The bottle, made using innovative technology, is the first visual departure from the classic designs of its predecessors. Nicole Kidman becomes the new face of the campaign for the classic Chanel No. 5, masterfully directed by Baz Luhrmann.
2005: Honored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Few fashion houses have the honor of having their own exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. With this exhibition, the House of Chanel pays tribute to its recent fashion history. That same year, the Spring/Summer 2006 Prêt-à-Porter show is held for the first time at the Grand Palais in Paris. Since then, this venue has become a permanent fixture for the presentation of the collections.
2006: Further cosmetic products are launched
Sublimage Crème Régénérante Fondamentale, an anti-aging cream, and Rouge Allure lipstick are launched.
2007: Keira Knightley presents Coco Mademoiselle
This year, the fashion house chooses Keira Knightley as the face of the Coco Mademoiselle campaign. Jacques Helleu, artistic director of the Perfumes & Beauty and Watches & Jewelry departments, dies. Under the direction of Jacques Ploge, the Les Exclusifs fragrance collection is created, with scents commemorating emblematic milestones in Chanel's history: 31 Rue Cambon, Bel Respiro, 28 La Pausa, No. 18, Coromandel, Eau de Cologne, and new editions of No. 22, Gardenia, Bois de Iles and Cuir de Russie. The collection is available exclusively at Chanel boutiques. In Moscow, the "Art as Universe" exhibition will be held this year at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. Other thematic exhibitions will follow in various cities around the world: Beijing and Shanghai, Canton ("Le Train Bleu" or "The Blue Train"), Paris ("N°5"), Seoul ("L'esprit des lieux" or "The Spirit of the Place") and Venice ("La femme qui lit" or "The Woman Who Reads").
2008: Linking fashion and art
Zaha Hadid creates another link between fashion and art. The traveling exhibition she conceived features works of art inspired by the quilted leather bag. It will stop in Hong Kong, New York, and Tokyo before being permanently installed at the Institute of the Arab World in Paris.
2009: Opening of the Joaillerie Studio
The studio for jewelry creation under the direction of Patrice Leguéreau openes.
2011: Creation of the Fondation Chanel
The company is establishing a foundation dedicated to advancing health care, combating gender-based violence and "accelerating economic empowerment. It works with organizations on nearly every continent.
2012: Anniversary of the Bijoux de Diamants
To celebrate the 80th anniversary of Gabrielle Chanel's only haute joaillerie collection, the house unveils new pieces exclusively in a pop-up planetarium at the Musée du Quai Branly and then at the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris. At the beginning of 2010, the company's sales are estimated at around $6 billion, a tripling over the last decade.
2013: Opening of the Horlogerie Studios
Under the direction of Arnaud Chastaingt, Chanel opens a watchmaking workshop. In the same year, Chanel launches Sous Le Signe Du Lion, the first jewelry collection dedicated exclusively to the lion, Chanel's zodiac sign. Chanel's apartment at 31 rue Cambon is listed by the French Ministry of Culture. This year, there are some 300 Chanel boutiques, which, together with a few selected department stores, sell almost exclusively the Group's fashions.
2015: New collections and site investments
This year, Chanel launches the Coco Crush collection, a reinterpretation of the quilted motif, and the Boy Friend watch. The Saatchi Gallery in London dedicates another exhibition to Chanel with "Mademoiselle Privé". Olivier Ploge succeeds his father Jacques as director of the perfume creation and development laboratory. The company pays a record $152 million for the 400 North Rodeo Drive boutique in Beverly Hills, the highest amount ever paid for a retail space in Los Angeles.
2016: Exclusive fashion show in Cuba
For the first time in the country's history, a couture house, Chanel, is holding a fashion show in Cuba. The Cruise Collection 2016/2017 will be presented on the Paseo del Prado in Havana. The Les Bles de Chanel collection is a jewelry collection dedicated exclusively to wheat. For the presentation, the company creates a wheat field on the Place Vendome. The newly created Monsieur men's watch features the in-house Caliber 1 movement for the first time. Chanel's former North American boss Maureen Chiquet, who led the company as global CEO from 2007 to 2016, must leave her post this year due to internal differences.
2017: Support for the Fashion Museum
Olivier Polge launches the Gabrielle fragrance. In the same year, the Code Coco watch was launched. From that year on, the company became the exclusive sponsor of the Palais Galliera, the fashion museum of the City of Paris. The following year, Chanel supports a major renovation of the museum.
2018: Lnciation of the Les Eaux fragrance collection
Les Eaux, a fragrance collection inspired by Chanel's travel destinations, is launched. With the 19M, the company lays the cornerstone for the new location of 11 of the 40 Métiers d'Art, which will be united under one roof on an area of approximately 275,000 square feet. The innovative building, designed by Rudy Ricciotti, is scheduled for completion in 2021. Chanel is paying particular attention to crafts, some of which are threatened with extinction. Some of the businesses work for clients other than Chanel. One contribution to greater sustainability is the announcement that the company will no longer use fur. For the first time in its history, the company publishes an annual report with sales figures. According to the report, sales in 2017 were 9.62 billion U.S. dollars - an increase of 1 percent over the previous year. Profits rose to $1.79 billion, an increase of 18.5 percent over the previous year. However, speculation continues to swirl around the personal fortunes of the two CEOs, estimated at around $23 billion. That same year, Chanel announced that it was moving its headquarters to London.
2019: Lagerfeld dies
With the death of Karl Lagerfeld on February 18, the house loses its creative spirit. The two houses, Chanel and Fendi, hold a joint memorial service in his honor in Paris. His successor at Chanel is Virginie Viard, who was Lagerfeld's right-hand woman at the house. The company joins forces with Swiss watchmaker Kenissi, whose Caliber 12.1 is used in the J12 38 mm automatic watch. The face of the campaign, entitled "It's all about seconds", is once again Keira Knightley. That same year, the J12 in white ceramic was awarded the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève in the ladies' watch category.
2020: Tradition despite pandemic
Many fashion houses around the world are abandoning the classic pattern of six collections a year and the numerous international trips that go with it. Not Chanel: the house is sticking to its proven formula of couture, resort and seasonal collections - even if the resort collection will be presented exclusively online for the first time in history in 2021, when the Capri show is canceled due to a pandemic. In the same year, the first haute joaillerie collection dedicated exclusively to tweed, "Tweed de Chanel", is created. The Paris Fashion Museum inaugurates the exhibition "Gabrielle Chanel. Manifeste de Mode", its first retrospective. Chanel rents its prestigious flagship store on London's Bond Street for 310 million pounds.
2021: Leena Nair becomes Global Chief Executive Officer
Leena Nair is appointed Global Chief Executive Officer. The company announces an investment in the Landscape Resilience Fund, which supports farmers affected by climate change.
2022: Cosmetics and perfume line No.1
The company is implementing its new sustainability goals with its No. 1 line of cosmetics and fragrances, 97 percent of whose ingredients are derived from natural raw materials and whose packaging is designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible. The company also aims to reduce its own carbon footprint by 50 percent and that of its value chain by 40 percent by 2030. By 2025, the company aims to source 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources. By 2024, 80 percent of deliveries will be made by sea. The company also supports land and livelihood projects in communities in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America. The company is donating €2 million to UNHCR and Care to support Ukraine. Chanel S.A. currently operates approximately 310 boutiques worldwide (94 in Asia, 70 in Europe, 10 in the Middle East, 128 in North America, 1 in Central America, 2 in South America and 6 in Oceania).