Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life
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Sleek. Chic. Notoriously guarded. Welcome to the secret world of Gabrielle Chanel.
The story of Chanel begins with an abandoned child, as lost as a girl in a dark fairy tale. Unveiling remarkable new details about Gabrielle Chanel’s early years in a convent orphanage and her flight into unconventional adulthood, Justine Picardie explores what lies beneath the glossy surface of a mythic fashion icon.
Throwing new light on her passionate and turbulent relationships, this beautifully constructed portrait gives a fresh and penetrating look at how Coco Chanel made herself into her own most powerful creation. An authoritative account, based on personal observations and interviews with Chanel’s last surviving friends, employees and relatives, it also unravels her coded language and symbols, and traces the influence of her formative years on her legendary style.
Feared and revered by the rest of the fashion industry, Coco Chanel died in 1971 at the age of eighty-seven, but her legacy lives on. Drawing on unprecedented research, Justine Picardie brings her fascinating, enigmatic subject out of hiding and uncovers the consequences of what Chanel covered up, unpicking the seams between truth and myth in a story that reveals the true heart of fashion.
Coco Chanel THE LEGEND AND THE LIFE JUSTINE PICARDIE ‘I IMPOSED BLACK; IT’S STILL GOING STRONG TODAY, FOR BLACK WIPES OUT EVERYTHING ELSE AROUND.’ Coco Chanel CONTENTS MADEMOISELLE IS AT HOME GABRIELLE IN THE SHADOW OF THE CROSS COCO COURTESANS AND CAMELLIAS THE DOUBLE C THE LITTLE BLACK DRESS MISIA AND THE MUSE NUMBER FIVE THE RUSSIANS THE DUKE OF WESTMINSTER RIVIERA CHIC THE WOMAN IN WHITE THE PROMISED LAND DIAMONDS AS BIG AS THE RITZ THROUGH A GLASS,
wardrobe and appearance: androgyny, 58, 69, 72, 86; Beaton on, 316; beige, 298; Bendor’s tweeds, 171, 289; as best model, 288; black, 58, 166; blouses, 188, 295; Capel’s influence, 73; Capote on, 54; cardigans, 171; cleanliness, 59, 117–18, 195, 251–2, 316; corsets, 65; dresses, 7, 64–5, 87, 192, 202; equestrian clothes, 52; evening gowns, 166, 192; face, 7, 13, 45; facelift, 283, 284, 314, 328; First Communion, 36, 42, 200–1; at Gabrielle’s, 324–5; hair, 7, 21–2, 45–6, 86–7, 296, 311–14, 319,
lribe, Paul: C on, 228–9, 232–4; Colette on, 227–8, 234; death, 235; as designer, 226, 327; Le Témoin, 223, 227, 243; love affair with C, 227–9, 232–4; nationalism, 227, 231–2, 234 Johnson, Lady Bird, 305–6 Kelly, Grace, 293 Kennedy, Jacqueline, 300–7, 319 Kennedy, John F., 300, 301, 304–7 Keppel, Mrs George, 189 La Bocca, 114–16 La Rochefoucauld, François de, 110 Laborde, Léon de, 89 Labrunie, Gabrielle (C’s great-niece), 33, 53, 76, 179–81, 185, 195, 251, 298, 314–15, 323–5
kept a bunch of wheat close to her: in her bedroom at the Ritz, and in each room of her apartment in Rue Cambon. Yet all the goodness of the wheat could not keep her mother from dying. Gabrielle maintained that she was 6 years old at the time; in reality, she was 11. Her father was absent again, travelling away from home, when Jeanne was found dead in her bed in a freezing room in Brive, on a bitterly cold February morning in 1895. History does not relate if Gabrielle watched her mother die, or
Minister the enclosed letter which we have been asked to forward by Mlle Chanel, who claims to be a personal friend.’) She had addressed Churchill as ‘My dear Winston’, and most of the handwritten letter is in English, although she concluded it in French. In view of the accusations and counter-accusations that were to follow in its wake, the detailed contents of her letter are crucial: ‘Excuse me to come and ask a favour from you in such moments as these. My excuse must be that it is not for