Coco Chanel

Luxury, said Coco Chanel, "must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury." And so she applied that philosophy to her clothes, tearing the linings out of tweed suits and giving them a kinder silhouette with boxy jackets. Corsets and padding were consigned to history.

The designer's views on fashion and luxury still form the underpinnings of those global businesses today. In an era in which clothes often wore the wearer — and frequently constricted her — Chanel's ideas were nothing short of radical. From the day she opened her famous Rue Cambon shop in Paris in...

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