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Chanel Fashion, News & Trends

La Chanelphile

August 18, 2011

Not My Coco…

Rumors have been all over the interweb the last week about a new book Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War by Hal Vaughan which alleges, among other things, that Coco Chanel was a Nazi spy.  Haven’t read the book (yet) I can’t say with any accuracy what this information is based on.  We all know that she was Baron Von Dincklage’s (Spatz’s) lover – an issue that is not contested.  But it’s quite another thing to allege that someone is a Nazi spy (and the book releases the week of Mademoiselle’s birthday – the nerve!).

I’ve been holding my tongue on this issue because the whole thing makes me uncomfortable.  I suppose when you are one of the most influential women of the 20th century and your life is shrouded in mystery there are going to be rumors.  Thankfully, Chanel came out with a statement to British Vogue – here it is:

“Such insinuations cannot go unchallenged,” a Chanel spokesperson took the unusual step of telling us. “She would hardly have formed a relationship with the family of the owners or counted Jewish people among her close friends and professional partners such as the Rothschild family, the photographer Irving Penn or the well-known French writer Joseph Kessel had these really been her views. It is unlikely.

“We also know that she and Churchill were close friends for a long time. She apparently approached him about acting as an intermediary between the Allies and the Germans for a peace settlement known as Operation Modelhut. No one knows for sure exactly what happened or what her role was to be. There are several different versions and it will no doubt always remain a mystery.

“More than 57 books have been written about Gabrielle Chanel. To decide for yourself, we would encourage you to consult some of the more serious ones.”

The book also claims that Chanel was the lover of a spy, Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage, who “reported directly to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, right hand of Hitler”.

“We know for a fact that she had a relationship during the war with a German aristocrat she had met in Paris in the Thirties,” Chanel acknowledged, conceding, “the timing of this romance with a German was unfortunate even if Baron Von Dincklage’s mother was English and their relationship started before the war.”

Image: AleXsandro Palombo

Yellow X: moi

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Filed under: Coco Chanel — Tags: — La Chanelphile @ 4:10 pm

8 Comments »

  1. That’s not my Coco Either… And I love your X!

    xoxo

    Comment by Ndiaz — August 23, 2011 @ 1:08 pm

  2. Cette rumeur est insupportable.
    Il faut rappeler à tout le monde que Mademoiselle Chanel est la seule à avoir fermé sa Maison de Couture dès 1939: “ce n’est pas un temps pour les robes” avait-elle dit avant l’arrivée des nazis…alors que les autres grandes maisons sont restées ouvertes et ont vendu des modèles aux femmes des riches nazis durant toute la guerre.

    Comment by Alexandre FONS — August 28, 2011 @ 5:00 am

  3. For those that don’t speak French, here is a translation of Alexandre FONS’ comment from google:
    “This rumor is unbearable.
    We must remind everyone that Chanel is the only one who closed his fashion house in 1939: “This is not a time for dresses” she said before the Nazis came … while other large houses were left open and sold models of the rich women Nazis throughout the war.”

    I agree. This is a good point. I’m in the middle of reading the book that makes these nasty claims and so far, I’m not convinced. I’ll post a review this week as soon as I finish the book.

    Comment by La Chanelphile — August 28, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

  4. Of course the Chanel company denies everything! The book is based upon documents that have not been seen before, but exist. Read the book and read the bibliography before making any statements. The author does not discredit Chanel as a designer and acknowledges the positive aspects of her character.

    Comment by Sally — December 4, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

  5. Bien sûr, la société Chanel dénie les propos du livre! Lisez le livre et la bibliographie pour savoir que tout est basé sur des documents qui n’étaient pas disponibles avant maintenant. L’écrivain ne nie pas les attributs positifs de Coco Chanel; elle fut une grande créatrice.

    Comment by Sally — December 4, 2011 @ 1:56 pm

  6. Hi Sally,
    Justine Picardie reviewed the same documents and based on her analysis, and reading both books, I just find her more credible. We are all entitled to review the information and come to our own conclusions.

    Best,
    Gabriella, La Chanelphile

    Comment by La Chanelphile — December 4, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

  7. Hi Gabriela,

    If you look closely at the bibliographies, you will see that Justine Picardie absolutely did not review all the same documents nor interview the same people.

    Of course we are all entitled to draw our own conclusions; I am only saying that before jumping to conclusions about Mr. Vaughan’s book, the documentation that supports what he says should be studied closely and acknowledged. It is factual evidence that cannot be ignored.

    Thank you for your message.

    Best regards, Sally

    Comment by Sally — December 5, 2011 @ 2:12 am

  8. Ask yourself, why did Chanel’s post war interrogation by the french resistance and new DeGaulle occupiers only last 45 minutes? Whereas other women were marched down the streets naked, shaved bald heads and murdered by viscous crowds who had already condemned them? BTW, 5800 collaborators were killed in post Nazi France.

    Let’s see…how about that her La Pausa summer villa which was used heavily by the French resistance as a safe house and transition into freedom? How about that she saved the life of Cartier’s (Cartier was Jewish by the way) head designer, Jeanne Toussaint, from going to a Nazi concentration camp? How about that her relationship with Churchill and DeGaulle was so good that the Mademoiselle smuggled coded messages through Cartier Paris to Cartier London (via Toussaint) …and by the way how many of you know that DeGaulle’s office of the French Resistance was the above floor of Cartier London?

    I think our very smart, clever Mademoiselle, who was a lover of the English, kept her feet in both camps to help end the war. Otherwise, she would have continued the House of Chanel and dressmaking for the Germans, which she didn’t.

    Oh yeah, why is it the her German lover, Dinklage (who had an English mother) and Chanel would only speak english to one another in Chanel’s apartment at the Rtiz?

    Personally, methinks that the Nazi accusers need to step back and really examine history and England WW2 archives….BEFORE slandering the Mademoiselle’s courage.

    Comment by Laura Ponter — August 16, 2012 @ 10:40 am

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