How Gabrielle became ‘Coco’

In 1904, a bit of entertainment for the average working class to indulge in were the cafe-concerts, or caf’concs as they were known, where small orchestras entertained in the evening. There were no cover charges, but were primarily supported “by collection only.” After meeting lieutenants in the alteration shop she worked in, 19-year-old Gabrielle Chanel was invited to La Rotonde to take in a show.

Coco Chanel, age 19Had Gabrielle boasted of her own singing ability? For whatever reason, the director allowed her to take the stage, and even landed her a recurrent spot at the establishment. Her nightly rendition about a young lady who lost her dog at the Trocadero amusement park gained her the nickname she would carry with her for the rest of her life.

I’ve lost my poor Coco / Coco, my lovable dog / Lost him, close to the Trocadero / He’s far away, if he’s still running. / I admit my biggest regret is that the more my man cheated me / the more Coco remained faithful.

But, Chanel delighted in obscuring the facts of her life during a lifetime of interviews, and there is one more song that she sang at the caf’concs which also gets the credit for the famous nickname. “Ko ko ri ko” was a title song of a revue by playwright Robert de Flers that was a smash hit in Paris in 1897.

In any case, the audience named her ‘la petite Coco’ and the legend was born.

Published in: on August 1, 2009 at 6:46 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I just finished watching a movie about Gabrielle Chanel. It was very good. She was an amazing woman.

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