Day 16: Your date with destiny

Imagine this. You are a knife.

What sort of knife would you be?

If you are a person who is fast to act, sharp, clinical and straight to the point, you could be a surgeon’s knife. A scalpel.

If you are a person who likes to tackle the big, messy jobs with relish and believe in the application of power to get things done, you could be a Chinese cook’s cleaver.

Some people are like the barber’s shaving blade. Sharp as a razor and always in your face.

Others are the Swiss Army type: bustling with all sorts of ideas and solutions to life’s various problems, always with an answer.

A friend of mine says that his wife is a blunt knife. “Oh, yes,” he relates, “she can be very blunt indeed!”

If Coco Chanel had been a knife, she would have been a very particular knife.

She would have been one of those knives you see advertised on late night TV. This is the knife that can saw through plaster, cut aluminum tins in half, and still stay sharp enough to slice tomatoes.

This was Coco. Despite the setbacks, the ups and downs of fashion, she never lost her edge.

She was born Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel. She lost her parents early in life, growing up in an orphanage.

The nuns taught her how to sew. When she was old enough those nuns were good enough to organise a job for her as a seamstress.

Sticking to the rules, doing what she was supposed to do was not Gabrielle’s forte. Ignoring the strict regime of the convent orphanage, she fancied herself as a night club singer. She started calling herself  Coco Chanel.

That stuck. The singing career didn’t.

A chance meeting with a wealthy playboy, Etienne Balsan, changed her life. With his backing she set up a shop, designing and selling her own range of hats.

From her first millinery shop, she launched her career in fashion design. It was her disregard for the starchy, formal French fashions of the time that became her trademark.

She did away with the corset, replacing it with simple, elegant clothes that were comfortable as well as chic. She didn’t just design nice clothes for women to wear. She gave women a different idea of themselves.

She gave them the opportunity to jump out of the brain-corset that restricted them to being second class citizens.

In 1922 Coco, by then a popular and successful designer, launched her new perfume, Chanel No.5, possibly the world’s most famous perfume. It was an overnight success.

When asked what she wore to bed, Marilyn Monroe coyly replied: “Why just two drops of Chanel No.5, of course!”

She designed her “little black dress” in 1926.  This creation was typical of her ability to create a timeless design bucking current trends, setting new directions.

Coco understood opportunities pop up and you have to be ready for them.

“I don’t understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little – if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that’s the day she has a date with destiny. And it’s best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.”

Every day is a new opportunity. Who knows who you will meet today? Who knows what opportunity will pop up? No matter how bad yesterday was, today is a new ball game. Today could be your date with destiny. Stay sharp! Look sharp! Dress accordingly!

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