Happy-Go-Lucky Book Review. “Coco Chanel. An Intimate Life.” by Lisa Chaney.

by Cashmere Wrap & Macadamia Nuts


I started the lecture of “Coco Chanel. An Intimate Life.” with a certain hesitation, afraid that the book will use Gabrielle’s ‘scandalous wartime affair’ with a German spy as a selling point (as promised on the book cover) and run the narration aiming at cheap sensation. To my great relief, it was nowhere near that sort of literature.

Gabrielle Chanel was more than secretive when it came to her true life story, feeding those around her with fantasies and stories related to imaginary events. Throughout her life she did all she could to distance herself from her humble and unhappy origins, in an attempt to create herself as well as her life story from the very beginning. Lisa Chaney’s book is a biography that sees the subject from a different perspective, focusing on Chanel’s private life and intimate relations, trying to read between the lines and portrait a woman who became one of the greatest designers of our time, showing a person behind the legend, with all her insecurities, doubts, fascinations, shortcomings and extreme passion for living.

The biography concentrates on people from Chanel’s social circle – her lovers, friends, family members and trusted employees, as well as on circumstances that brought them together. There is not so much about couture – Chanel creations and her innovatory fashion are marked, but without being the main focus. I believe this to be a smart move, as much has been written on the House of Chanel and repeating what was already well descried wouldn’t make an equally fascinating reading.

It took me three days to go through 600 pages of my pocket size edition and all that with constant interest. There were rare moments when I had an impression that some assumptions about Chanel’s feelings and thoughts were too far fetched and impossible to conclude basing on available sources, but on the whole I enjoyed the time spent with “Coco Chanel. An Intimate Life.” and can recommend it to all interested in the history of this talented fashion dictator and truly remarkable woman.

(Photo: www.tanum.no)