19 August 2011

Happy Birthday, Coco!

Joyeux anniversaire, Mademoiselle Chanel! We're wearing our pearls, tweed jackets and camelias in our hair in your honour this morning. Well, in our minds we are but the sun is shining here in London so it's Breton jerseys all the way! Anyway, you don't look a day over a tres chic and fresh 128!

Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel was born on this day in 1883 in Saumur, France and the rest is, as they say, history! The fashion legend's story has been told again and again, through countless biographies (our favourite remains Justine Picardie's Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life) and films (take your pick from Audrey Tautou as a young Coco playing havoc with the fashion establishment in Coco avant Chanel to Anna Mouglalis as an established Chanel and her affair with Igor Stravinsky in Coco and Igor) but it seems that our appetite for more on the tale of an orphan girl that not only dominated the world of fashion but did it her way is far from satisfied.

 

Three new books on the designer are out this autumn, An Intimate Life by Lisa Chaney, Intimate Chanel written by her grand niece, Gabrielle Palasse-Labrunie and the rather timidly titled Sleeping With The Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War by Hal Vaughan. Don't hold back. Mr Vaughan! Citing evidence found in archives from around the world - spurred by an accidental find in France's national archive - Vaughan alleges that Mademoiselle Chanel was a Nazi spy for Germany's military intelligence organization. Needless to say, Chanel released a statement in response to these allegations saying, 'Such insinuations cannot go unchallenged. [Coco Chanel] 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.' They went on to state, '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.'

 

A mystery indeed. This is, after all, the woman that once declared, 'I don't care what you think about me. I don't think about you at all.' *and bow*

-- Kiki Georgiou


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