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La Chanelphile

September 18, 2011

Biographers Debate Coco Chanel’s Nazi Ties

I read Sleeping With the Enemy a few weeks ago but I didn’t have a chance to write my review before I left for New York for Fashion Week. I’ve waited on writing the review because my notes are in the book (which I left at home) but I will say that Hal Vaughan did not convince me that Coco Chanel was a Nazi spy. While I will wait on going into details on why I’m not convinced until I have my notes with me, I found a really interesting interview on BBC radio where Hal Vaughn and another Chanel biographer, Justine Picardie, debate Chanel’s involvement with the Nazi’s. Having read both books, I agree with Justine Picardie’s point of view. Have you read the books? What do you think?

You can hear the interview with Hal Vaughn and Justine Picardie on the BBC website.

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Filed under: Chanel,Coco Chanel — Tags: , , , — La Chanelphile @ 8:30 pm

August 11, 2011

More Karl Lagerfeld Sketches of Coco Chanel

karl lagerfeld illustrations of coco chanel
Back in March we saw a sneak peek of illustrations Karl Lagerfeld did for a re-issue of Justine Picardie’s Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life.  I came across some more illustrations and I thought I would share.  I never get tired of seeing Karl Lagerfeld’s illustrations…

Source: Harper’s Bazaar

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Filed under: Chanel,Coco Chanel,Karl Lagerfeld — Tags: , , , — La Chanelphile @ 5:33 am

August 5, 2011

New Chanel Biography Coming Soon: Coco Chanel: An Intimate Life by Lisa Chaney

Coco Chanel: An Intimate Life

Everyone’s going cuckoo for Coco lately.  She’s always intrigued and her influence is far reaching, but the past few years have seen a tremendous surge of media devoted to Mademoiselle Chanel.  In the past three years we’ve seen two feature films (Coco Avant Chanel and Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky), a made-for-tv movie (terrible) and several biographies including Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie and a re-issue of Paul Morand’d biography, Coco Chanel.  Lisa Chaney is throwing her hat into the mix with a new biography out this November entitled, Coco Chanel: An Intimate Life.

Part of the intrigue of Coco Chanel was that she was a habitual liar and her life story changed each time she told it.  Habitual liar is maybe not the correct phrase, but she was a master of creating a persona – one that we are all still obsessed with today so it seems she was quite successful at it, non?  Lisa Chaney would like to shed some light on areas that are otherwise clouded and she “claims to have concrete evidence that the designer used drugs, embraced bisexuality and had an affair with Salvador Dalí while he was married.”  From that sentence alone I feel like Coco Chanel: An Intimate Life, may read more like a tabloid than a biography but only time will tell.  Press copies go out in October so I will let you know then.  In the mean time, if you can’t wait, Coco Chanel: An Intimate Life, is available for pre-order now on Amazon.com.

Source: WWD

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Filed under: Chanel,Coco Chanel — Tags: , , — La Chanelphile @ 5:31 am

July 20, 2011

Then & Now: Chanel Fall-Winter 2011/2012 Haute Couture Design Inspiration

karl lagerfeld sketch of chanel dress 1931

Karl Lagerfeld has adopted Goethe’s famous motto: “Build a better future by expanding on elements of the past.” At CHANEL he has changed nothing and everything, interpreting CHANEL in his own way with elegance and wit. He would have certainly met Mademoiselle’s approval, since her ideas also often created mini-revolutions before becoming the industry standard.

–Chanel Corporate

The above statement is on the Chanel website and it is eloquent and precise in describing Karl Lagerfeld’s deft hand in picking up where Coco Chanel left off.  You can see elements of Coco Chanel in all the collections but nowhere has this been more apparent than in the Chanel’s Fall-Winter 2011/2012 Haute Couture collection, appropriately called Les Allures de Chanel.

In the sketch above, Karl lends his hand to a dress that Coco Chanel designed in 1931.  The first thing I noticed was the peplum – many pieces in the Chanel’s Fall-Winter 2011/2012 Haute Couture collection highlighted this same very design feature.

Below you can see the 1920s influence of the flapper dress with low waist, straight silhouette and neckline with deep V detail.

chanel haute couture comparing coco chanel and karl lagerfeld

In the next image you can see a Chanel print that may have inspired the fabrication of the dress on the left.  The black fabric with pops of color seem reminiscent of the Chanel print.

chanel haute couture comparing coco chanel and karl lagerfeld

Finally, there’s the boater hat – the hat that started it all. The boater hat is the first hat that Coco Chanel started designing. She would buy them in bulk from the store and then customize them. Her simple straw hats were a fresh counterpoint to the heavily feathered hats of the day that made Coco wonder how women could think underneath all of that excess. Karl Lagerfeld knows the significance of the boater hat so I’m guessing that is why every model in the show was wearing one. An homage to Coco would be nothing without a boater.

boater hat chanel haute couture comparing coco chanel and karl lagerfeld

Unfortunately there are not a lot of images of original Chanel designs but I will continue to look for comparisons to see how Karl has taken the legacy of Coco Chanel and given it a current spin in future collections.

Image 1: Karl Lagerfeld sketch of a Coco Chanel dress designed in 1931, scan from Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life by Justine Picardie, p. 193.

Image 2: Left: Chanel evening dress, 1923-24, scan from Chanel: The Couturiere at Work, by Amy de la Haye & Shelley Tobin, p. 37. Right: Style.com.

Image 3: Christian Bérard illustration featured in American Vogue, July 1937, scan from Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life by Justine Picardie, p. 231. Right: Style.com.

Image 4:  Chanel wearing one of the first boater hats she designed to the horse races in 1910, Chanel and Her World: Friends, Fashion and Fame, p. 60. Right: Style.com

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March 17, 2011

Karl Lagerfeld Sketches Coco Chanel

Last year, Justine Picardie released Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life.  Karl Lagerfeld enjoyed the bio so much that it inspired him to sketch Coco Chanel for a new edition that will be published by Steidl.  Picardie and Lagerfeld will host a cocktail reception for the 2nd edition at Galignani, one of Lagerfeld’s favorite bookstores in Paris.  A German version releases in April and the English version will release in June.

Source: WWD

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December 7, 2010

Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie


I read every book I can get my hands on about Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel – well at least the ones in English. When I heard a while back that there was a new biography in the works, Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie, I couldn’t wait to learn more about the mysteries surrounding one of the most influential women of the 20th Century.

Justine Picardie spent years researching and writing this biography on Mademoiselle Chanel.  From notes in the Chanel and Churchill archives, to interviews with Chanel’s last surviving friends, Picardie paints a picture that brings the true Coco to light in a way never seen before.

From her humble beginnings in an Orphanage, to her romance with the Duke of Westminster, Picardie delves deep into the mysteries behind the infamous designer.  She also investigates Chanel’s controversial romance during WWII and digs deep into top-secret intelligence and military archives.  Studying the iconography of the brand, Picardie also recounts how key events in Chanel’s life infuenced her collections and designs.

Thoroughly researched, Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life is an excellent read on Coco Chanel’s life.  Not just a great biography, Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life is full of accompanying photographs – some of which I have never seen before.  One of my favorite parts of the book are the embossed illustrations of Coco Chanel on the front and back covers done Karl Lagerfeld himself.

Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life is available for sale on Amazon.com and makes a wonderful gift for any Chanelphile.  It’s definitely now one of my favorites among my collection of Chanel books.

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September 13, 2010

Chanel Links: Week of 09.13.10

  • Coco, the musical about Coco Chanel’s life (that starred Katherine Hepburn) made a brief comeback this weekend in a bare-bones production at the New York Theather Company.
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