La Chanelphile

August 13, 2012

Chanel Links: July and August 2012

chanel links

Chanel Links!

There’s been so much going on and though I don’t have time to do full posts on all Chanel news that comes my way – I still wanted to share some of my favorites…

sanya richards ross chanel
Sanya Richards-Ross won gold in the 400M and the 4x400M wearing Chanel!

Lisa Chaney, author of Chanel: An Intimate Life discusses the life and influence of Coco Chanel in the video below…

You can customize your Firefox tooblar with a “Chanel” add on – I was tempted but found it distracting.

Not everyone can afford Chanel so you can learn how to DIY “Chanel-ify” a cardigan.

chanel fall 2012 ad campaign
You’ve probably seen them by now in magazines but the Chanel ads are out and they were shot by Karl Lagerfeld.

Jacques Polge, Chanel’s nose, discusses Chanel N°5 in the video below – if you don’t see English subtitles, click the CC on the bottom menu.

chanel nail stickers

If only Chanel would make real ones! If you’re dying to have Chanails you can get Chanel-inspired nail stickers.

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March 22, 2012

Book Review: “Coco Chanel, An Intimate Life” by Lisa Chaney

coco chanel an intimate life by lisa chaney
I have been reading Coco Chanel, An Intimate Life by Lisa Chaney for months now and I have finally finished it! It didn’t take me a long time because I didn’t like it, rather I quite enjoyed it. I simply couldn’t find the time to sit and read, one of my great relaxing pleasures. Yes, I could have skimmed the book and written a quick review but I didn’t think that would be fair to you and I really wanted to give the book a full read and I’m glad I did.

Last year so many biographies of Coco Chanel came out and I was wondering if they would all have something new to add and surprisingly, they all do. The general story is the same and Lisa Chaney does a fine job of recounting the tale that Coco told. What distinguishes Chaney’s telling is her historical context. Lisa Chaney dives deep into the societal and cultural mores, and explains in detail what was happening around Chanel. Giving Chanel’s story context helps paint a more detailed picture of the life that Coco Chanel lived. As someone who loves history, I really enjoyed this aspect of Coco Chanel, An Intimate Life and it shed more light on the mysterious Coco Chanel. Coco Chanel, An Intimate Life is available online at Amazon.com.

Listen to an interview of the author Lisa Chaney from NPR:

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Filed under: Chanel,Coco Chanel — Tags: , — La Chanelphile @ 9:59 pm

December 6, 2011

Book Review: Chanel – Couture and Industry by Amy de la Haye

chanel couture and industry by amy de la hayeChanel: Couture and Industry is one of the many new recent books that have come out about our favorite couturière, Coco Chanel.  Unlike some of the more scandalous biographies, Chanel: Couture and Industry is a breath of fresh air because it focuses on Chanel in the context of fashion history.

Coco Chanel is synonymous with elegance, fashion innovation and modernity and in Chanel: Couture and Industry, Amy de la Haye examines the creative output of the House of Chanel from its infancy in the 1920s, to the present day under the tutelage of Karl Lagerfeld.  Using the renowned collections of the V&A as her sources, fashion historian Amy de la Haye shows how Coco Chanel changed the way modern women dress.

Chanel: Couture and Industry includes beautiful images of original Chanel pieces – many of which can only be seen in museums – and many of which I have never seen before in any other Chanel publication.  Chanel is the third book in the V&A Fashion Series covering key innovators in the world of fashion.  If you are looking for a book that focuses more on Chanel in the context of fashion history then this is the book for you – or a great gift for any Chanelphile.  Chanel: Couture and Industry is available online on Amazon.com.

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Filed under: Chanel,Chanel Culture,Coco Chanel,Vintage Chanel — Tags: , , , — La Chanelphile @ 5:47 am

December 5, 2011

Book Review: “Chanel, The Vocabulary of Style”

chanel the vocabulary of style

Chanel, The Vocabulary of Style is one of the most beautiful collections of Chanel photography that I have ever seen.  Compiled by fashion historian and journalist Jérôme Gautier, Coco Chanel’s story of iconic style is told through archival photos paired with recent images.  Photographs by leading photographers from Cecil Beaton, Horst P. Horst and Edward Steichen to Nick Knight, Annie Leibowitz and Mario Testino are shown side-by-side, just to name a few.

The Vocabulary of Style is divided into eleven chapters that identify key elements in Chanel’s lexicon:  The Body Liberated, Little Black Dresses, Black into Night, Baroque Inspirations, 31, Rue Cambon, Youth and Evolution, Simple Chic, Androgyne, From Tweed to Tweeds, The Total Look and Rebel.  In each chapter the viewer sees the progression from the seeds that Coco Chanel herself sowed to the flowers that bloomed under Karl Lagerfeld’s delicate hand.

Chanel, The Vocabulary of Style is a gorgeous collection of Chanel photographs and is a must-have for any Chanelphile.  If you especially like vintage Chanel from the 80s and 90s – this book features more photos from this time period than any other Chanel book I have seen.  If you are making a holiday wish list, or are looking for a gift for a fashion lover then I would highly recommend Chanel, The Vocabulary of Style – the edition comes in a slipcover and is as beautiful as the photographs within it.  You can purchase Chanel, The Vocabulary of Style online on Amazon.com.

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Filed under: Chanel,Chanel Culture,Coco Chanel — Tags: , , — La Chanelphile @ 5:17 am

September 30, 2011

Book Review: Sleeping With the Enemy – Coco Chanel’s Secret War by Hal Vaughan

When I heard the nasty rumors circulating online about Sleeping With the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War, a new book that unlocks the secrets of Coco Chanel’s WWII wartime activities I had to get my hands on a copy.  After all, Coco Chanel was my idol since childhood and I didn’t want to look up to a Nazi spy.  On the other hand, claiming someone was a Nazi spy is probably one of the worst things you could say about a person – and I wasn’t going to believe such an accusation without some proof.  You see, a long, long time ago (in a land far away), I was an attorney.  Though I no longer practice law, I don’t take accusations lightly and I firmly believe in “innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”  That is the standard by which I deem things such as nasty Nazi spy rumors to be true or false.  After reading Hal Vaughan’s Sleeping With the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War, I am not convinced.

The first half of the book is background information on Chanel and the Paris she inhabited.  There is nothing about her behavior pre-WWII that would cast doubt on her character.  Yet, the tone in which Hal Vaughan writes his book is one of a scorned lover.  Or a woman hater. Or both.  The book reads like a witch hunt and he simply did not like her.  His distaste for Coco Chanel came across in everything he wrote from his description of her appearance to disparaging and sexist comments sprinkled throughout the book.  As I was reading the first half of the book I found myself thinking that if it is with the same analysis that he comes to the Nazi spy conclusions, then his arguments are simply not credible.  But I continued reading and waited to read something convincing.

The second half of the book is where Hal Vaughan lays out his evidence and presents his arguments claiming Coco Chanel was a Nazi spy.  His conclusions are based on archival documents about Chanel’s wartime activities.  Interestingly, Justine Picardie had access to the same documents and devotes two chapters to Chanel’s wartime activities in Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life, and came to very different conclusions.  How could two people read the same documents and come to such different conclusions?

Hal Vaughan had an idea in his head and he skews the documents to fit his hypothesis, whereas Justine Picardie approached the documents with an analytical eye and also with great knowledge of Coco Chanel.  For example, one set of intelligence records claimed that Coco Chanel was married.  That was simply not true – and something that could easily be verified with state records.  If the intelligence could be wrong about something so easily verifiable, how could you believe anything else in the documents? At the very basis, the source material was not credible.  This is just one example, but there are many more inconsistencies that just don’t add up.  Whereas Hal Vaughan forces the pieces to fit, Justine Picardie lays them out before you and you conclude yourself that there is just no way they can fit together.

Even by giving Hal Vaughan the benefit of the doubt and accepting all of his arguments as true – then Chanel did two things: (1) she unsuccessfully tried to broker peace between Germany and England; and (2) she tried to gain control of her company using anti-Jewish laws.  Picardie addresess both of these issues – Vaughan is not bringing anything new to the table.  But these acts hardly make her a Nazi spy.  Calling someone a Nazi spy implies that she is working for the Nazis.  That simply was not the case.  Though trying to gain control of her company through the use of anti-Jewish laws was unsavory, it also did not make her a Nazi spy.

The final thing that I considered when deciding whose arguments were more convincing were the actual writers themselves.  Justine Picardie, a fashion writer, was the features director of British Vogue and has written for Harper’s BazaarHal Vaughan was a journalist whose writing has been more political in nature.  While Hal Vaughan’s knowledge of Coco Chanel was rudimentary, Justine Picardie literally walked where Coco Chanel walked visiting the convent where Chanel grew up and Chanel’s suite at the Ritz, among other places.  She even tried on Chanel’s very own clothing.  Picardie’s research was so deep that she delved into the very psyche of Coco Chanel.  She knew that Chanel’s greatest creation was her own persona and that you can’t take things at face value when studying Coco Chanel.  When comparing the two – there is in fact no comparison.  Hal Vaughan’s book simply reads as an opportunistic book written to create lots of nasty headlines and rumors online with nothing to back them up.  For that, he did succeed.  In convincing me that Coco Chanel was a Nazi spy, he did not.

If this is issue is important to you I urge you to read both books and come to your own conclusion.  Both books, Sleeping With the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War and Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life are available online and you can hear the authors themselves debate the issue on BBC radio.

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Filed under: Chanel,Coco Chanel — Tags: , , — La Chanelphile @ 4:46 am

August 26, 2011

Book Review: Chanel by Jean Leymarie

chanel by jean leymarieIf 2009 was the year of Chanel films, then 2011 is the year of Chanel books.  Originally published in 1987, Jean Leymarie, a French art historian, wrote Eternal Chanel, a work that elevated Coco Chanel’s place in history from fashion designer to artist.  The work was out of print for some time but earlier this year, the work was re-printed with a cover redesigned by Philippe Apeloig.

I recently purchased Chanel by Jean Leymarie and it now holds a dear place in my Chanel library.  Part art book, part biography, Chanel is unlike other books on Coco Chanel because of it’s approach.  Rather than detail her life story, Leymarie set out “to provide a general overview of Chanel’s creative history and evolution within the context of the artistic world of her time.”  (Chanel, Jean Leymarie, p.7).  The book starts off with a brief history of fashion beginning in Ancient Egypt to modern day.  Then the book reviews art movements and key moments in Chanel’s career.

Chanel by Jean Leymarie is a lovely book because you can see Chanel’s work alongside popular art movements of the time.  Providing a context to see Chanel’s work, you are transported through time to a different era.  Chanel has many photos I have not seen published in other books, as well as old favorites.  I am so happy I bought this book and I know it will be a book that I refer to often.  You can purchase Chanel by Jean Leymarie on Amazon.com.

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Filed under: Chanel,Chanel Media,Coco Chanel — Tags: , , — La Chanelphile @ 5:54 am

June 8, 2011

Northern Lights: Northern Women in Chanel Out July 1st

Northern Women in ChanelSwedish couple photographer Peter Farago and stylist Ingela Klemetz-Farago have collaborated with Chanel to release Northern Women in Chanel, a book of fashion photos featuring forty-five Scandinavian beauties wearing Chanel including Carmen Kass, Helena Christensen, and Freja Beha Erichsen.

Ingela stated, “It was a fashion journey” – and what a journey it was with unlimited access to Chanel’s fashion archives! Over the course of one year, the duo shot over 300 looks featuring Chanel pieces from the present to one-of-a-kind pieces dating back to the 1920′s. “’We’re so close to nature here,’ says Farago, who was inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s earthy heroines. ‘That strength and honesty makes for a graceful, down-to-earth kind of femininity.’” (Vogue.com, May 31, 2011).

The preface is written by Karl Lagerfeld in celebration of these Northern beauties. Northern Women in Chanel releases July 1, 2011 and is limited to 2112 numbered copies worldwide. You can purchase it through Farago Publishing. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Save the Children.  An accompanying exhibition starts in Stockholm on June 30th.  No word yet if it’s coming stateside but I hope it is!

Images: Farago Publishing & Vogue

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Filed under: Chanel,Chanel Media,Karl Lagerfeld — Tags: , — La Chanelphile @ 5:53 am

June 2, 2011

Assouline Chanel Three Book Set, Special Edition with Chanel Slipcase

assouline chanel three book set with chanel slipcase

I love collecting books on Chanel – Mademoiselle was such a fascinating artist and I love all of her creations.  When I found out about the special edition of Chanel books by Assouline, I had to have it.  One problem though – the three book set retails for $550!  Why so much?  Easy – it’s all in the quilting.

Chanel produced a “luxe slipcase … made of genuine black quilted leather and adorned with a metal Chanel logo” exclusively for Assouline.  The slipcase houses three editions celebrating Chanel’s revolutionary style: Chanel Fashion, Chanel Fine Jewelry, and Chanel Perfume.  One of the most visible personalities of her era, Gabrielle Chanel invented a style that was synonymous with modernity and chic and this three book set does her legacy justice.  Written by Francois Baudot and Francoise Aveline, each book is 80 pages with 60 images and the quilted slipcase measures 6.5 x 9.5″.

You can purchase the Chanel three book set and slipcase on the Assouline website.  If it’s beyond your budget, you can get the three books – sans Chanel quilted slipcase – on Amazon for $47.


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Filed under: Chanel,Chanel Fragrance,Chanel Jewelry,Chanel Media,Coco Chanel — Tags: — La Chanelphile @ 5:03 am