The World of Coco Chanel: friends, fashion, fame
By Edmonde Charles-Roux
Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel is an icon of fashion, and can lay claim to
having invented the look of the 20th century. At the height of the Belle
Epoque, she stripped women of their corsets and feathers, bobbed their
hair, put them in bathing suits and sent them out to get tanned in the
sun. She introduced the little black dress; trousers for women; costume
jewelry; the exquisitely comfortable suit that became her trademark.
Early in the Roaring Twenties, Chanel made the first ever couture
perfume - No. 5 - presenting it in the famous little square-cut flagon
that, inspired by Picasso and Cubism, became the arch symbol of the Art
Deco style. No.
5 remains the most popular scent ever created. Chanel knew instinctively
that the road to success lay in being absolutely at one with her own
time. And what a time! The era of Picasso, Diaghilev, Stravinsky,
Cocteau, Jean Renoir, Visconti - all of whom 'Coco' knew and
collaborated with, even as she matched their modernist innovations by
liberating women from the prison of 19th-century fashion and creating a
whole new concept of elegance.
Chanel went everywhere and knew everyone and, as this sumptuously
illustrated volume clearly shows, her life and accomplishment - even her
chronic failure in love - constitute one of the great stories of the
modern age. Her life is eminently suited to the lavish visual treatment
of this handsome volume, which features more than 600 illustrations from
an extraordinary collection amassed over the years by Edmonde
Charles-Roux, Chanel's official biographer and close friend. An
authoritative and practised writer, Charles-Roux has used careful
research and vivid eyewitness accounts to set the pictures in their
context of time and place.
She makes Chanel live again!