How Chanel made tanning fashionable
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Believe it or not, having glowing, tanned skin was not a summer essential before this century. For centuries before, pale skin was viewed as essential for women to stay in fashion. It was said that higher class women did not have tans because they did not need to do hard labour outside, therefore stayed naturally pale. Pale skin was so popular in fact that during the Renaissance era women used a mix of carbonate, hydroxide and lead oxide on their faces to create the porcelain look. Crazy right? The side effects of these 'makeup' looks were incredibly harmful to women, causing deadly lead poisoning and even muscle paralysis in some cases! The practice of the pale people continued for centuries with women trying to stay as white as sheets, until the 1920's when skin tone 'fashion' was turned on its head by a well-known socialite.
After an accidental sunburn while on vacation in the French Riviera, icon and fashion designer Coco Chanel returned to Paris with unusual tanned skin. The look then sparked a trend, which was seen as a status symbol by women all over Paris. Of course, no one but Coco Chanel could have pulled off a tan in those days but we have her to thank for allowing women to sunbathe and get that summer glow.
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