The Roaring Twenties Notable figures

Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel

Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel, born 19 August 1883 in Samur, France, died 10 January 1971, was a French fashion designer and businesswoman. She was the founder and namesake of the Chanel brand.

Along with Paul Poiret, Chanel was credited in the post-World War I era with liberating women from the constraints of the "corseted silhouette" and popularizing a sporty, casual chic as the feminine standard of style. She is the only fashion designer listed on Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

Involvement in WWII

Rumours arose about Chanel’s activities during the German occupancy of France in World War II, and she was criticised for being too comfortable with the Germans but never thoroughly investigated. In 1939, at the beginning of WWII, Chanel closed all her shops, resulting in the loss of 4000 employees’ jobs. In closing her couture house, Chanel made a definitive statement of her political views. Her dislike of Jews, reportedly, inculcated by her convent years and sharpened by her association with society elites, had solidified her beliefs. She shared with many of her circle a conviction that Jews were a threat to Europe because of the Bolshevik government in the Soviet Union.

Coco Chanel and the Duke of Westminster at the races in 1924

Official Nazi papers found in the French Defence Ministry archives show that Chanel was recruited by the Nazi military intelligence division, the Abwehr, and given an agent number, F-7124. She was also given her own codename, Westminster, a reference to her affair with the Duke of Westminster 20 years earlier.

Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin (16 April, 1889 - 25 December, 1977) has always been known as greatest comedian of the silent era. Bagging many awards for his work, Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin was renowned for his talent in directing, composing and music. 'The Great Dictator' was his first dialog picture where Chaplin played the role of a dictator, based on Hitler.

Chaplin (pictured right) in his film "The Great Dictator" (1940)

The 1940s saw Chaplin face a series of controversies, both in his work and in his personal life, which changed his fortunes and severely affected his popularity in the United States. The first of these was a new boldness in expressing his political beliefs. Deeply disturbed by the surge of militaristic nationalism in 1930s world politics, Chaplin found that he could not keep these issues out of his work. Parallels between himself and Adolf Hitler had been widely noted: the pair were born four days apart, both had risen from poverty to world prominence, and Hitler wore the same toothbrush moustache as Chaplin. It was this physical resemblance that supplied the plot for Chaplin's next film, The Great Dictator, which directly satirised Hitler and attacked fascism.

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Ellie Crofts
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Created with images by chrissy polcino - "DSC03241.JPG" • chariserin - "Coco_Chanel" • chariserin - "1001-chanel-coco-chanel_li" • miss.libertine - "Louvre" • janeb13 - "charlie chaplin 1921 the kid"

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