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- KurzbeschreibungNATIONAL BESTSELLER
Certain lives are at once so exceptional, and yet so in step with their historical moments, that they illuminate cultural forces far beyond the scope of a single person. Such is the case with Coco Chanel, whose life offers one of the most fascinating tales of the twentieth century-throwing into dramatic relief an era of war, fashion, ardent nationalism, and earth-shaking change-here brilliantly treated, for the first time, with wide-ranging and incisive historical scrutiny.
Coco Chanel transformed forever the way women dressed. Her influence remains so pervasive that to this day we can see her afterimage a dozen times while just walking down a single street: in all the little black dresses, flat shoes, costume jewelry, cardigan sweaters, and tortoiseshell eyeglasses on women of every age and background. A bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume is sold every three seconds. Arguably, no other individual has had a deeper impact on the visual aesthetic of the world. But how did a poor orphan become a global icon of both luxury and everyday style? How did she develop such vast, undying influence? And what does our ongoing love of all things Chanel tell us about ourselves? These are the mysteries that Rhonda K. Garelick unravels in Mademoiselle .
Raised in rural poverty and orphaned early, the young Chanel supported herself as best she could. Then, as an uneducated nineteen-year-old café singer, she attracted the attention of a wealthy and powerful admirer and parlayed his support into her own hat design business. For the rest of Chanel's life, the professional, personal, and political were interwoven; her lovers included diplomat Boy Capel; composer Igor Stravinsky; Romanov heir Grand Duke Dmitri; Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster; poet Pierre Reverdy; a Nazi officer; and several women as well. For all that, she was profoundly alone, her romantic life relentlessly plagued by abandonment and tragedy.
Chanel's ambitions and accomplishments were unparalleled. Her hat shop evolved into a clothing empire. She became a noted theatrical and film costume designer, collaborating with the likes of Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, and Luchino Visconti. The genius of Coco Chanel, Garelick shows, lay in the way she absorbed the zeitgeist, reflecting it back to the world in her designs and in what Garelick calls "wearable personality"-the irresistible and contagious style infused with both world history and Chanel's nearly unbelievable life saga. By age forty, Chanel had become a multimillionaire and a household name, and her Chanel Corporation is still the highest-earning privately owned luxury goods manufacturer in the world
- AutorRhonda K. Garelick
- VerlagRandom House LCC US
- Seiten608 Seiten
- Gewicht804 g
- LeseprobeChapter One
If there's one thing that interests no one, it's someone's life. If I wrote a book about my life, I would begin with today, with tomorrow. Why begin with childhood? Why youth? One should first offer an opinion about the era in which one is living- that's more logical, newer, and more amusing.
- Coco Chanel
Gabrielle Chanel turned her existence into a glamorous, cinematic soap opera that garnered near- constant chronicling by the press, but she always refused to offer concrete details of her earliest years. Instead, she chose to dispense occasional tidbits of truth, hidden amid the ever- changing fantasies she used to embellish the grim reality of her childhood and, perhaps, to soften for herself the legacy of a youth beset by poverty, tragic loss, and wounding betrayals by those closest to her.
Ferociously determined till the very end to obscure her true origins, Chanel lived in the present tense. Such insistence upon the "now," upon the "era in which one is living," as she put it, may help account for the saving grace of her life: her startling ability to interpret the moment, to create relevant fashion for most of sixty years. Perhaps if Chanel had had a more accepting relationship to her own nineteenth- century rural childhood, she would never have become a standard- bearer for twentieth- century urban womanhood.
But Chanel's modernist revolution and its ongoing power have their roots in that long- buried childhood of hers, in the flinty soil of France's Cévennes region where she was born, in her hardscrabble, peasant ancestors, and in the two major institutions that left their aesthetic, moral, and psychological stamp on her: the Roman Catholic Church and the military.
Chanel liked to tell people that she was a native Auvergnat, born in the south central region of Auvergne, in France's Massif Central- a gorgeous, still heavily rural area known for its agriculture, its myriad volcanoes- all extinct for thousands of years- and its highly mineralized water, reputed to hold curative properties. It was a slight untruth. Although Auvergne played a significant role in Chanel's life, and although her tempestuous nature often evoked comparisons with those many volcanoes, Gabrielle Chanel was actually born far from Auvergne's rugged beauty, in the northwest Loire Valley town of Saumur. The small lie was telling, though.
Auvergne was, for generations, home to the Chanel family- the region where her father, Albert Chanel, was born, the region where her grandparents eventually settled. Auvergne was also the place she was conceived
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