La Chanelphile

March 16, 2012

Chanel: The Little Black Jacket Photo Shoot with Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld

“The CHANEL jacket symbolises a timelessly fashionable form of nonchalant feminine elegance: it belongs to every era” – Karl Lagerfeld.

Chanel sent a video of a behind-the scenes look at the making of the The Little Black Jacket: CHANEL’s classic jacket revisited by Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld. Watching this video is like watching the dream team of fashion at work with Peter Philips doing makeup, Carine Roitfeld styling and Karl Lagerfeld photographing. I’ve always wanted a Chanel Little Black Jacket and now I want one even more!

The images for this latest project were shot in Cannes, in the South of France, and then in New York, before finishing up in Paris in Karl Lagerfeld’s studio. Over a hundred models and celebrities have been captured by the designer’s lens. Actors, artists, singers, rock stars – the book’s impressive line-up encompasses all aspects of contemporary culture today including Georgia May Jagger, Carine Roitfeld, Sarah Jessica Parker, Virginie Ledoyen, Akuol de Mabior, Virginie Viard – and they all wear CHANEL’s uniquely timeless and versatile little black jacket in their own special way.

The Little Black Jacket: CHANEL’s classic revisited by Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld, will be available in bookstores beginning Autumn 2012.

Video courtesy of CHANEL

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CHANEL: Secrets of The Little Black Jacket

Chanel’s little black jacket is in the spotlight at the moment. Back in November, I posted preview images from a book about the Chanel Little Black Jacket worn by many famous personalities including Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, Charlotte Casiraghi, Saskia De Brauw and Daphne Groeneveld. In anticipation of its release, Chanel has created a video showing the making of a Chanel Little Black Jacket.

CHANEL invites you to discover the secrets of the little black jacket, at the heart of their ateliers, rue Cambon in Paris. “It is one of the symbols that defines the style of CHANEL. There are things that never go out of fashion, jeans, a white blouse, and a CHANEL jacket,” comments Karl Lagerfeld.

From the initial sketch by Karl Lagerfeld, the jacket takes shape through numerous stages – the draping, the cutting, the assembling, and the position of the label, the trimming, the buttons and the chain which calls on our savoir-faire.

A true reflection of the expertise and the creativity of CHANEL, the little jacket is produced according to the time honoured tradition of the House with the most meticulous care for the smallest detail.

Video courtesy of Chanel

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Filed under: Chanel,Chanel Media — Tags: , — La Chanelphile @ 1:45 pm

October 25, 2011

Assouline Chanel Special Edition with Tweed Chanel Slipcase

Assouline Chanel Books with Tweed Slipcase

In June I posted about a limited-edition set of Chanel books published by Assouline complete with a quilted leather Chanel slipcase.  Assouline is releasing another limited-edition set of Chanel books – in an edition of 30 – but this time the slipcase is a Chanel tweed.  The set with Chanel tweed slipcase will retail for $2,500 each and will be sold at Assouline boutiques and website, in addition to being included in the Neiman Marcus’ Christmas selection.  What a gorgeous addition to a Chanel book collection, no?  At that price though, I think I’d rather have a Boy bag or some jewelry.

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Filed under: Chanel,Chanel Fragrance,Chanel Jewelry,Chanel Media,Coco Chanel — Tags: — La Chanelphile @ 10:09 pm

October 17, 2011

Book Review: Coco Chanel by Linda Simon

coco chanel by linda simonThe only books I’m reading these days are Chanel biographies because there are at least five books that have come out this fall about Coco Chanel and I’m reviewing them all.    For forty years, writers have tackled the life of Coco Chanel and with the exception of Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life and Sleeping With the Enemy – where the authors had access to intelligence that was never before available – you may wonder what more can be said on the subject of Coco Chanel’s life.  I was wondering the very same thing when I set out to read Coco Chanel by Linda Simon.

Coco Chanel by Linda Simon is a very quick read going through Chanel’s life from childhood all the way to Karl Lagerfeld picking up the reins.  While many of the aspects of Chanel’s life that are already documented in other biographies are glossed over, Simon distinguishes her biography of Chanel by the wealth of fashion research she has done.  Of all the biographies of Coco Chanel that I have read, Linda Simon’s relies most on fashion primary source materials such as fashion and women’s magazines and newspapers.  For the first time, I learned in detail about the wider context in which Coco Chanel’s fashions were viewed.  While I had read about most of what was in this biography, there were a few facts here and there that I learned from reading Coco Chanel.  If you want something very in depth on Coco Chanel this is probably not the read for you.  If you want to read a book that does a good job of summarizing Chanel’s life, rounded out with a good dose of fashion history then I would recommend this book.  You can purchase Coco Chanel by Linda Simon on Amazon.com.

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Filed under: Chanel,Coco Chanel — Tags: , , — La Chanelphile @ 5:52 am

October 10, 2011

Book Review: Intimate Chanel by Isabelle Fiemeyer

Intimate Chanel by Isabelle Fiemeyer

Everything has been said, written, and filmed about Chanel for four decades now-everything, that is, except the landscape of her private world, her beliefs and inspirations, her attachment to symbolism, spiritualism, and esotericism, to literature and poetry, to the men whom she loved, and above all to her family.
-Isabelle Fiemeyer, Preface, Intimate Chanel

Intimate Chanel, by Isabelle Fiemeyer, is one of the many books coming out this fall telling the story of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s life and as the title suggests it tells a very intimate tale indeed.  What differentiates Intimate Chanel from other biographies is the role of Gabrielle Palasse-Labrunie – Chanel’s only direct descendant.  Not only did Gabrielle Palasse-Labrunie write the forward, but many passages of the book are actual quotes where she recounts private conversations between herself and Coco Chanel – presenting us with “Auntie Coco” a woman very different from Coco Chanel’s public persona.

The gorgeous photographs of Francis Hammond also make Intimate Chanel a very in-depth account of the life of Coco Chanel.  Hammond took photos of Chanel’s personal effects – many never seen before or published – including items from Coco Chanel’s personal wardrobe, her jewels, gifts given to her from the men in her life, favorite furniture pieces, family photos and books with personal inscriptions.  These haunting images together with the passages in Gabrielle Palasse-Labrunie’s own voice truly makes this a personal account of Coco Chanel’s life.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Intimate Chanel and zipped through it in a matter of hours but I know that I will go back to it often to look at the inspiring images.  Intimate Chanel would make a lovely gift for a Chanelphile or a gorgeous addition to any Chanel collection.  You can purchase Intimate Chanel by Isabelle Fiemeyer on Amazon.com.

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Filed under: Chanel,Coco Chanel — Tags: , , , — La Chanelphile @ 5:10 am

September 27, 2011

Chanel Book Reviews Coming Soon!

Before I went to New York for Fashion Week, I received a bunch of Chanel books.  Just a quick note that I’ll be getting the reviews up shortly.  Working on one right now – hopefully it will be up tomorrow! Back to reading and writing!

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Filed under: Chanel Media,Coco Chanel — Tags: , — La Chanelphile @ 2:10 pm

September 22, 2011

Lunch with Coco Chanel Biographer Justine Picardie

Chanel Her Life Justine PicardieOn Tuesday, I had the honor of attending a Luncheon held in honor of Justine Picardie, the author of Chanel – Her Life.  Tucked away in the private upstairs room of La Grenouille, “the last great French restaurant in New York”, the intimate setting and amidst gorgeous floral displays, it was the perfect place to spend an afternoon celebrating the life of Coco Chanel.

I read Picardie’s first edition of Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life while on vacation this summer and it is by far my favorite Chanel biography.  In fact, Karl Lagerfeld himself loved the biography so much that he created illustrations and redesigned the layout of the book, including the font, for the second edition published by Lagerfeld’s long-time publisher Steidl.  I’m so glad I had already read the book because the new edition – Chanel – Her Life – is so beautiful I would hate to cause any wear-and-tear to the edition.  Having read the book only a month ago, much of it was fresh in my mind.  But, to hear the author herself discuss the experience brought a whole new level of understanding.

Amy Larocca and Justine Picardie

Growing Up With Chanel

Though Justine Picardie started the process of writing Chanel – Her Life in 1998, her fascination with Chanel started as a little girl.  Her mother kept Chanel N°5 on her dressing table and that was her mom’s signature scent.  Though Picardie couldn’t read yet, the typeface of the Chanel N°5 bottle was so distinctive, she knew that is contents were “precious” and the bottle was off-limits to Justine and her sister.  It seems Picardie’s mother was a Chanelphile herself and for her wedding she wore a little black dress – not a Chanel original but made from a Vogue Chanel pattern.  Continuing in the rebellious spirit of her mother, Justine Picardie wore her mother’s wedding dress during her punk phase to see The Clash and The Sex Pistols (so cool on so many levels!).

Gabrielle Chanel, Convent Life and Chanel Iconography

I’ve often read of Gabrielle Chanel’s mysterious childhood growing up in the convent at Aubazine – mysterious because of the many versions of her childhood that Chanel recounted often replacing nuns with “severe aunts in black.”  Justine Picardie is the only writer that was granted access to stay at the convent.  The process of gaining access was a long one, but when one of Picardie’s letters reached the abbey on the Saint Justine’s Saint’s Day, the nuns saw it as a sign and allowed Justine Picardie to stay at the convent on the condition that she follow their routine.  And so she woke at dawn, prayed, ate very little, prayed some more and sang.  Not only was she able to walk the same halls that young Gabrielle Chanel had, but she got to experience what Coco Chanel had experienced.

In many ways, growing up at Aubazine was probably the biggest influence on Coco Chanel’s designs.  From the stark black and white of the nuns’ habits, star patterns in the mosaic floor of Aubazine Abbey, iron crosses and patterns in the stained glass that are eerily similar to the interlocking C’s – all of this imagery plays a large part in modern Chanel iconography and provides the foundation for the house that Chanel built.  In fact, she sent the architect of La Pausa to the Aubazine Abbey to replicate the staircase for the foyer of La Pausa.

Coco Chanel’s Activities During WWII

We’ve all read the vicious rumors circulating online about Coco Chanel prompted by Hal Vaughan’s Sleeping With the Enemy (review coming shortly but you can hear Justine Picardie and Hal Vaughan debate the topic in the mean time).   Picardie would never speak ill of another writer’s work; she read the same sources that Hal Vaughan read and she came to very different conclusions.  For Ms. Picardie, the situation was a “much more complicated story.”

Time has not been kind to Coco Chanel and her wartime activities.  She closed her house because she thought that war was “no time for fashion.”  Though it was seen as patriotic to stay in business, the French designers that did continue throughout the war only ended up designing for the wives and mistresses of Nazi officers – not very patriotic.  Indeed, perhaps not selling to the Nazis was more patriotic, non?  For example, Cartier designed a piece for Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propoganda, but you don’t see people exploiting that fact – or calling Cartier a Nazi.  Picasso sold paintings to Nazi’s and even had some Nazi’s visit his studio.  In fact, any French person who was not part of the resistance in some way or another had contact with Germans.  Whether you were a barber, baker or banker – if you were in occupied France you had to work with Germans.

It’s sad, but Coco Chanel may be the victim of sexism – a “convenient scapegoat”.  She was a strong, financially independent business woman – something very rare back then (and still scary to some today).  Her relationship with a half-English half-German low-level spy was complicated – as were all of her relationships with men.  The lowest act she committed was trying to get control of Chanel Fragrances – a company whose name she shared but only shared in 10% of its profits – through the use of anti-Jewish laws.  Not respectable at all, though there is much more to the story (read the book for information on all wartime activities).

The 1954 Comeback

Coco Chanel re-opened her house in 1954 to awful French review – the kind that would make anyone else quit.  That Coco Chanel continued is a “measure of her strength”.  Her reason for returning to Fashion?  Dior.  In 1947 he popularized the “New Look” and managed to bring back corsets, virtually un-doing Chanel’s life’s work.  She had done so much to liberate women and she wanted to free them from the tyranny of the corset one more time.  (It appears the rivalry between Dior and Chanel is not a new one).

The Luncheon

The afternoon started with champagne and hors d’oeuvres followed by a sumptuous meal – the kind that I could see Coco Chanel herself enjoying amidst the company of her artist friends.  As we dined, Justine Picardie recounted stories of her stay at The Ritz in the suite that Coco Chanel died in (not the pre-WWII Coco Chanel Suite).  It seems Mlle. Chanel may have paid Ms. Picardie a visit the night of her stay.  Over a hushed table, Justine Picardie told us how after turning in for the night and shutting the lights one of the bulbs shot out of the wall sconce, lights flickered and lights turned on without her help. The luncheon ended with Ms. Picardie signing my copy of Chanel – Her Life and I received a box of Chanel N°19 Poudré compliments of Chanel.

Coco Chanel – Living in Black and White

If I took away one thing from reading Chanel – Her Life and hearing Justine Picardie speak – it would be that Coco Chanel is shrouded in mystery because she was a woman of contrasts.  From the diametrically opposed staircases in her life – the dark, austere Aubazine Abbey to the glimmering, mirrored staircase at 31 Rue Cambon, to her at-once loving yet litigious relationship with her business partner of sorts Pierre Wertheimer, Chanel was a complicated woman.  She hid the darkest parts of her past like the shame of growing up in poverty and from that she created light – beautiful creations that look as modern now as they did seventy-years ago.  And from the mystery of her life, the contrast of darkness and light, the simplicity of the signature black and white Chanel branding make all the sense in the world.

Chanel – Her Life is available now in bookstores and online.

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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 19, 2011

Different Like Coco Book Review

Different Like Coco

Today is Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s birthday, and to commemorate this day, I’ve decided to finally review Different Like Coco, a children’s book about the life of Coco Chanel. I actually bought this book while I was still pregnant – as soon as I found out I was having a little girl, I decided Different Like Coco should be her first book.

The Tiny Dancer is too young to understand the story so I’m holding off on reading it to her. I gave it a read and it’s a PG summary of Coco Chanel’s life. The story of the most elegant woman in the world is a great one for little girls. From starting out poor and growing up in an orphanage, to becoming one of the most influential women of the 20th century is no small feat. The moral of the story, that it’s ok to be different, is an invaluable one for children. I can’t wait until the Tiny Dancer is old enough to appreciate this story. I can just see us putting on our faux pearls, sitting the Tiny Dancer on my lap and reading this story over and over. I hope she grows up to love Coco Chanel the way I did. And if not, that’s ok, after all, it’s ok to be “different like Coco.”

Different Like Coco is available on Amazon.com.

*Republished from Lil-Miss

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Filed under: Chanel,Chanel Media,Coco Chanel — Tags: , — La Chanelphile @ 6:57 am

June 26, 2011

Chanel, Italian Style

coco chanel italian biography
The husband was in Italy on business and one of the treats he brought back for me (of the non-eating or foot-wearing kind) was a biography of Coco Chanel. Apparently, he thinks my Italian is much better than it is. No problem, it may take me longer to get through but with a dictionary by my side it will be an adventure.

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Filed under: Chanel,Coco Chanel — Tags: , — La Chanelphile @ 9:08 pm