Coco Chanel: An Intimate Life
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The controversial story of Chanel, the twentieth century's foremost fashion icon
Revolutionizing women's dress, Gabrielle "Coco'' Chanel was the twentieth century's most influential designer. Her extraordinary and unconventional journey—from abject poverty to a new kind of glamour—helped forge the idea of modern woman.
Unearthing an astonishing life, this remarkable biography shows how, more than any previous designer, Chanel became synonymous with a rebellious and progressive style. Her numerous liaisons, whose poignant and tragic details have eluded all previous biographers, were the very stuff of legend. Witty and mesmerizing, she became muse, patron, or mistress to the century's most celebrated artists, including Picasso, Dalí, and Stravinsky.
Drawing on newly discovered love letters and other records, Chaney's controversial book reveals the truth about Chanel's drug habits, her lesbian affairs, and her German lover during World War II.
While uniquely highlighting the designer's far-reaching influence on the modern arts, Chaney's fascinating biography paints a more nuanced picture of Coco Chanel than any so far. Movingly, it explores the origins, the creative power, and the secret suffering of this exceptional and often misunderstood woman.
multitude of peonies—subtle, gay, moving parties which made several people envious (all those who could not be invited in spite of the dimensions of the beautiful lounges of the Faubourg St.-Honoré).”19 By February of 1930, Bend’Or had found himself a new wife, Loelia Ponsonby, one of the “Bright Young Things” and daughter of the first Lord Sysonby. Bend’Or had brought Loelia to Paris for an excruciating session, in which she met her future husband’s ex-lover. Understandably, Loelia found
prisoners. Under the watchful eye of Abetz’s propaganda staff, cinemas and theaters in the occupied zone were reopened. The making of new films was encouraged, and newspapers and publishers were permitted to recommence printing. The attitude of their masters was, at the same time, repressive regarding anything “decadent,” anti-German or pro-Jewish. Not long after the armistice, when the Pétain government in the south began to put anti-Semitic prohibitions into practice, most of the intellectual
until the baron’s parents’ deaths meant he was finally able to marry. When Gabrielle returned to Moulins, she was alone and without prospects. She had set her heart on the stage and her failure left her unsure of what to do next. Adrienne’s success almost certainly spurred Gabrielle on to make her next move. Etienne Balsan, in the background for several months, had set up house and now invited her to live with him as his mistress. One suspects she accepted without too much hesitation, grateful
for a means of escape from the servitude to which she would otherwise have been forced to return. Some time before, first Etienne’s father, then his mother had died, each leaving him a large inheritance, making him a very wealthy young man. Immediately after completing his military service, he had launched himself into his life’s work—breeding and training horses. To this end, he had bought and restored a small château, Royallieu, in the department of Oise, and it was here that Gabrielle now
preindustrial France. They were familiar with the leatherworkers, the can-dlemakers, the joiners, cobblers, tailors and seamstresses: traders whose hand skills—like those of the weavers, button makers, ribbon makers and cutlers from whom Albert bought his wares—were to become redundant as factory machines far outstripped their rate of production. In 1887, a third daughter was born to Jeanne and Albert at Issoire; they named her Antoinette. By now, the strain of caring for four young children,