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Coco Chanel: Book Review


Coco Chanel Book

Reviewed by tvnz.co.nz's Melanie Scott

A recent resurgence of interest in Coco Chanel and the women behind the legend saw the release of two recent movies on her life "Coco Avant Chanel" and "Igor and Chanel". Both movies barely scratch the surface of the dynamic life of the woman who eternally defines style and glamour.

It's easy to forget just how revolutionary and important Chanel is to the world of fashion and to how woman dress today. You only have to look around at the revival of the French-style striped tops, which Chanel originally popularised in the early 20th century, or to the forever stylish little black dress; woman today are still dressing to the dictates of Mlle Chanel.  

A new biography Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life, by former Vogue fashion director Justine Picardie, delves much deeper into the life and work of Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel. 

Chanel was an intriguing figure, a habitual story-teller, who sought to obscure the truth of her life by weaving various stories around her origins to veil the truth. She notoriously scratched out her birth date on her passport and always claimed to be much younger than she was.
 
Picardie has pieced together the different versions of Chanel's life from the woman herself and those around her, with the book broken down into different chapters revolving around both her personal and professional life.

Picardie visits important places in Chanel's history - such as the abbey in Aubazine where Chanel was raised, and her private apartment on Rue Cambon, which remains just as she left it upon her death in 1971- giving an intimate glimpse into Chanel's life.

This closer look at Coco Chanel reveals the woman was just as formidable as the legend. Hardly surprising from the woman who said - "I don't do fashion, I AM fashion." 

Chanel was fiercely private and, while Picardie has done exhaustive research and created what has to be a definitive biography of her life, somehow the real woman remains just out of reach.

That said, it's a fascinating exploration of the woman, her life and her work. Beautifully illustrated with photos of Chanel's life and her designs as well as drawings from current Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld, it's a must read for fashion lovers.

8/10

Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life,
by Justine Picardie
Publisher: HarperCollins
RRP: $49.99
Available: Now




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