Coco Chanel, the Legendary Woman

ALMATY, March 6


�If you were born without wings, at least do not prevent them from growing later,� Coco Chanel said. She got the wings from fashion. All her life she fervently tried to change the fashion. �Fashion is the queen, but sometimes it is a slave,� Coco liked to repeat. Her passion # 1, her strength and revelation was Haute Couture. Chanel was confident not only in the power of fashion, but also in importance of the craft traditions of the High Fashion.

The real name of Coco Chanel was Gabriel. She was born in 1883 in a small French town.

From childhood she stared at wonderfully dressed ladies accompanied by stately admirers. At first the young dress-designer admired with refinement of their dresses, then she irritated. She felt that despite silk and velvet of the high society, they were not so elegant and stylish, as she wished. Their dresses lacked a detail. But what detail? Coco had been searching for many years, and at last she came to the simple conclusion: simplicity gives a start to refinement. To be more accurate: �the only aim of refinement is to make simplicity remarkable.� This thesis became the creative slogan of the vogue designer.

She opened a fashion house in Paris and threw down a challenge to the society. Minimalism, discretion and comfort of her dresses contradicted to the accepted vogue canons. Young Gabriel shocked everybody when she radically changed the term woman.

Great Mademoiselle changed not only the fashion world, but also the attitude towards woman. Instead of a helpless lady with pink dreams, the woman that hoped only for herself appeared in the 20th century�s stage. This woman wore trousers and defiled in a riding suit. She put on men�s coat and gave up brilliants, preferring bijouterie. She began to smoke openly and preferred tart scents. That was Coco.

Having find a wave and wonderfully orienting in it, Chanel could reach far creeks, though not breaking very limited �banks� that she created herself� The Russians who uniquely combined rather rough habits and tastes with sophisticated magic ideas. Here Gabriel found whatever she lacked before, i.e. absolute freedom of her creation that had the only limit: no limits at all! The experience of Dyagel shows that transformed in close contacts with French coreligionists: Cocto, Stravinsky, Picassos, and Riverdy.

Associating with her protectors, Cocto, the duke Westminster and the prince Dmitry, she became famous. Then � rich. She could choose herself, when she was almost as rich as her protectors were.

The triumph of her searches was Chanel #5. It was her scent and the scent of her era.

Coco Chanel died on January 10, 1971 in her bed, in a dark room where the aroma of her perfume wandered.

Since 1983 Karl Lagerfeld ascended her throne. He managed to lead the Chanel Fashion House out from oblivion. He restored the Mademoiselle�s spirit.

Noble Damsels Faint Away

ALMATY, March 6


Education is available to everyone � both women and men. Hence the doors of any university are open to both males and females. There is however one university in Almaty which has strict gender restrictions. For many decades it has been closed to men. Readers must have guessed that we are talking of the Women�s Pedagogical Institute (WPI).

The Almaty Women�s Institute goes back to the era of Peter the Great. This tsar initially ordered the opening of a military school for young men from wealthy families, and then the Institute of Noble Damsels. Thus, the first national education system was established.

The first and most famous state university for girls � the Smolny was established in 1764. It was situated in the Sunday Convent near St. Petersburg. Mainly girls from noble families studied at the Institute, but there was another school for young girls training to be teachers and governesses (this school later became the Alexandrovsky Institute).

Girls studied at the Institute for 9 years and students were called smolyankas. They began at age 5 to 6, and they lived in the Institute, rarely seeing their relatives.

The nine years of education were divided into three stages. The first stage lasted for 3 years. Students of this group were called coffeeinitsas, as they wore coffee-colored dresses with white calico aprons. This uniform was the later to become the Soviet school uniform.

Students of the middle group were called blue (the color of their dresses). Girls from the senior group were called white, though they wore green dresses. Most importantly, each of them had a white ball-dress. Girls from the senior group were allowed to go to balls, where selected courtiers were invited.

The Institute program included the study of several languages (German, French and Italian); sciences (physics, chemistry, maths, astronomy, architecture); and arts (namely literature). The girls were also taught to dance.

The public examination was the main event at the Institute, where even members of the Tsar�s family and the Emperor himself were present.

Students had to observe a strict daily routine, getting up at 6 o�clock and studying for 6 to 8 hours per day. Their spare time was strictly limited. Nine girls lived in each room, together with a teacher. They also had a tutor.

As a rule, their teachers were either French or German. They taught girls the manners of French society. Hence, the students could read novels, liked to dream and we able hold the refined conversations.

Smolyankas were known for their sensitivity, as sentimentality was greatly cultivated. Sensitivity was not invented by smolyankas, however. The Institute simply taught them feeling standards that were considered fashionable at the time. In the 18th and early 19th centuries a noble woman not only combined two upbringings, but also two worlds of feeling. On the one hand, a serf nurse taught the girl to express the feelings and emotions accepted among common people. These feelings were reserved. On the other hand, high education meant exaltation: faints, tears, etc. This behavior was considered as �educated.� The woman of the past combined both these psychological types.

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