Don't get me wrong, I respect the artistry of Valentino, the spice of Versace, the construction of Dior, the demure elegance of Prada-- but in my mind, it is Chanel that trumps them all.
Perhaps it is the woman herself, born Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, that most captures my interest and admiration. Her fashion sensibility, especially within the confines of the world she lived in, was as inimitable as it was exciting. Though I love pieces that imbue a delicate femininity, I also love clothes that are well made and figure flattering. Chanel managed to encapsulate both of these seemingly opposing ideas and did so seamlessly. I literally dream of owning a Chanel suit one day.
What impresses me most about Chanel's aesthetic is her belief that clothes could be comfortable, without being casual. She scoffed at the idea that a corset is more feminine than a simple black dress, or that a hat must be over-ornamented with feathers and fluff. She demonstrated that a flawless silhouette that leaves something to the imagination is far sexier than copious amounts of decolletage. She cut up and reworked male shirts and wore pants in a era of dresses. She had the gumption to succeed in a man's world. She left an imprint in the fashion world that will never be forgotten.
She literally changed the fashion world for the better, and her legacy lives on.
(P.S. If you still haven't seen Coco Avant Chanel yet, I highly recommend it. It's an excellent representation of Chanel's formative years, and is beautifully made.)