Coco Chanel: From Fashion Icon to Nazi Agent
Case describes the career of the iconic French fashion designer Coco Chanel who created a transformational business during the first half of the twentieth century. The case describes how she leveraged relationships to build her fashion business and legendary luxury brand based on understated elegance. Chanel famous little black dress was accompanied by many other innovations including the use of jersey as material and her development of the Chanel No. 5 perfume. The case pays close attention to the importance of Chanel's networks among artists and European high society. It explores how she embraced the Anti-Semitism widely found in that society at that time period. During World War 2 Chanel lived in the Ritz hotel in Paris in occupied France in a relationship with a high-ranking German intelligence officer. She herself became an intelligence operative for Nazi Germany. The case ends with Chanel in Switzerland in 1945 after she had left France after the Liberation by Allied forces. This case can be used to explore multiple issues including creating and building an iconic fashion brand; female entrepreneurship; and ethical responsibility of business.