Coco Chanel: The Legend And The Life

12 June 2011

The last book we read on the subject of ‘Coco’ Gabrielle Chanel was by French writer and former editor-in-chief of French Vogue, Edmonde Charles-Roux. Although packed full of fascinating information and indeed the definitive book on Chanel up until that point, we found Roux’s actual style of writing slightly irritating and at times unforgiving.

Not so with Justine Picardie’s evocative book: Coco Chanel: The Legend And The Life. Lavisly illustrated with drawings by Karl Lagerfeld, Picardie doesn’t just examine the glossy surface of  a mythic fashion icon but explores what lies beneath. She covers Coco’s early years in a convent orphanage, throws new light on her passionate and turbulent relationships, and uncovers how Chanel fashioned herself into her own most powerful creation. Picardie has achieved this by literally following in the footsteps of Chanel: visiting the hallowed private salon in Rue Cambon, sleeping in Chanel’s preferred room at the Ritz and spending time with the silent order of nuns at the Aubazine Abbey where Coco spent her childhood.  She has interviewed surviving friends, employees and relatives and most remarkably one of the latter invited the author to take a peek into Chanel’s personal wardrobe and try on some of her clothes. Upon trying on one of Mademoiselle’s favourite cream jackets, Picardie explained how her hand automatically reached down to feel inside one of the pockets. Nestled there was a pair of gloves and handkerchief still bearing the unforgettable lingering scent of Chanel No. 5.

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Further reading: Chanel: Collections and Creations. Visit our bookstore to purchase.