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Thursday, October 14, 2010


We like to get right to the point: We have read many books on Chanel, and we loved them all.  But, we'd have to say COCO CHANEL: THE LEGEND AND THE LIFE is the best.  Why?  
It is well-written and explores in more depth the life of an icon than has ever been delved into before, or in so much as we've read.  Coco Chanel would definitely be at the table if you asked Peachy which people living or dead she'd want at a dinner party which obviously would be at Swifty's.  A fascinating character that lived a life cloaked in mystery and success, Chanel and her tantalizing personality enraptures us.  When we say we like Chanel, we mean the person.

The presentation of COCO CHANEL: THE LEGEND AND THE LIFE is pure quality. How fun it is to read a book that is not only well-written, but also presented with priceless personal photographs that must not have been easy to locate or get the legal authority to reprint.  We respect the work that must have gone into that and are glad we didn't have to do it!  (Peachy does have a legal background.)  It was well worth the effort.  This is a book that looks great on a shelf of intellect or on a coffee table; it is truly the little black dress of books.  A great gift too, by the way!  Buy it for yourself and others.

As with many aspects of Whom You Know, we find that this is hitting on other brands we reviewed (the whole point!), and when on page 71 Picardie talks about Maxim's and how Chanel went there we are reminded of Mover and Shaker Pamela Friedman!  From learning how Boy trained Chanel for happiness with his flower giving (once it was pointed out to him!!!) to hiding emeralds in vegetables (that would have been a good way to get Peachy to eat vegetables she didn't like as a child) to how she continued to blazer her own path after his death, the details that went into this extraordinary work impress us immensely.

We knew that her designs and her influence brought fashion to the multitudes, but did you know she used to fish with Winston Churchill?  Peachy did not.  And of course Justine went the extra mile to get the pictures to prove it.  As we are Anglophiles, we love all the English references that this book contains.  In the Riviera moments during the Jazz age that are referenced we cannot help but wonder if Chanel met the Fitzgeralds and what they said to each other.  Peachy REALLY wishes if that occurred, that she was at THAT party.  (but of course they would not have had Star Vodka back then; all of you readers have the aforementioned Pamela to thank for that.)

We also did not know of Chanel's Hollywood involvement, which was also fascinating to read.  We're not going to give it all away in the review: you should read the book.

When Chanel came to New York, she stayed at the Pierre.  Peachy hasn't been there since Tuesday....

A great quote on page 292 by Chanel:
"A woman with good shoes is never ugly...They are the last touch of elegance." 
We also found her thought on men seeking a little pillow from women to put their heads down on...she was quite a ticket.  Whether or not we like her clothes, her perfume, her anything-we love love love Chanel the person, the personality and the spirit.  Peachy Deegan thinks she lives in New York today....and probably strolls Madison Avenue in spirit with Jackie Kennedy.

Whom You Know Highly Recommends COCO CHANEL: THE LEGEND AND THE LIFE.  We wish she was still here today.


Many years in the making, COCO CHANEL: THE LEGEND AND THE LIFE (It Books; On sale Sept. 21, 2010, Hardcover; $40.00; ISBN: 9780061963858), is a full-scale biography that peels away the layers of romance and myth surrounding the legend of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, revealing the true history of the remarkable woman who shaped modern fashion and created an empire of haute couture.   

Uncovering the story of Chanel’s troubled early years, Justine Picardie picks up the legend of Chanel where it began—in poverty, When Gabrielle was abandoned by her father in an orphanage, after the death of her mother.  Throwing light on her passionate and stormy relationships, and providing new insights into her connections with Winston Churchill, the Duke of Westminster, Sergei Diaghilev, Igor Stravinsky, among many others, Picardie offers a unique and penetrating account of what made Coco Chanel her own most powerful creation. This authoritative history is based on extensive research in the Chanel and Churchill archives and access to other private collections. Drawing upon interviews with her last surviving friends, employees and relatives, as well as with Karl Lagerfeld, the creative director of Chanel since 1983, the biography also unravels the coded language and symbols that are at the heart of Chanel’s most famous designs. 

Feared and revered by the rest of the fashion industry, Coco Chanel died in 1971, at the age of 87, but her legacy lives on. This lavishly illustrated volume brings Gabrielle Chanel out of hiding, unpicking the seams between truth and legend to reveal the incredible story of the life of an icon.

  • Insight into intimate moments of her life, including the relationships she had with Boy Capel, the Duke of Westminster, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich and her closest female friend, Misia Sert.
  • A fascinating look at how key events in Chanel’s life influenced her very distinctive collections – many aspects of which have been rediscovered and reinvented throughout the history of the brand. An unraveling of the ways in which Chanel’s childhood in a convent orphanage were reflected in her signature designs: from the little black dress to the chains of a classic Chanel handbag.
  • New revelations about Chanel’s controversial actions during the Second World War, including details from top-secret intelligence and military archives.
  • A look at the celebrated Americans—including Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy —who fueled Chanel’s comeback and furthered the brand’s popularity. 
  • The book includes 250 color and black and white illustrations, including many never-before-seen photographs of Coco, her creations and her letters, along with original illustrations by Karl Lagerfeld, creative director of Chanel.
Justine Picardie is an author and journalist; she has written four books, including her critically acclaimed memoir, If The Spirit Moves You and her most recent novel, Daphne. The former features director ofVogue and editor of the Observer magazine, she is currently a fashion columnist for the Sunday Telegraph, and also writes for several other newspapers and magazines, including Harper’s Bazaar and theTimes.  She lives in London with her two sons.  
by Justine Picardie
On sale: 09/21/2010
It Books | ISBN: 9780061963858
USA: $40.00 | CAN: $52.00

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