Coco and the Little Black Dress

Username or e-mail: Password: CREATE NEW ACCOUNTFORGOT YOUR PASSWORD? Coco and the Little Black Dress by Annemarie Van Haeringen (available 10/1/15, NorthSouth Books)

Here’s a fun book: a stylish story both in look and in theme.

That cover, the signature shape of Chanel No. 5, juxtaposed not-so-glamourously with a girl scrubbing floors in a raggish kind of dress. The title, a crash course in fashion.

Coco Chanel.

This book was originally published in the Netherlands, and coincided with a museum exhibition of some original Chanel designs. Yet even apart from that collaborative effort, this book is a beautiful glimpse at the life of a girl who saw things a little bit differently.

Coco and the Little Black Dress by Annemarie Van Haeringen Coco and the Little Black Dress by Annemarie Van Haeringen

First up: endpapers. From beginning to ending, from scraps to something refined.

Coco and the Little Black Dress by Annemarie Van Haeringen Coco and the Little Black Dress by Annemarie Van Haeringen

Coco, fragile as an eggshell, a mistake, a nothing, an orphan.

But the nuns saw her talent for sewing, and Coco was happy.

Coco and the Little Black Dress by Annemarie Van Haeringen Coco and the Little Black Dress by Annemarie Van Haeringen

When she grew up, she surrounded herself with fancy ladies in crazy hats. How can you think with a dead pigeon on your head?

Coco and the Little Black Dress by Annemarie Van Haeringen

Coco was a problem solver, and when she saw these fancy ladies riding sidesaddle in complicated skirts, Coco figured out how to sew trousers.

But when you sew trousers and are invited to the races, you need a fancy hat. One without a dead pigeon on your head.

Coco and the Little Black Dress by Annemarie Van Haeringen

So Coco created a hat shop. She created comfortable, easy clothing for women.

Coco and the Little Black Dress by Annemarie Van Haeringen Coco and the Little Black Dress by Annemarie Van Haeringen

And the women tossed out their corsets.

With her little black dress, Coco figured out how to celebrate what a woman looks like, when it’s the woman you look at and not her clothes.

Her angel-like sewing skills, her observation and celebration of women, and her style: iconic.

Though if you want biographical information on Coco Chanel, you might want to supplement this book–it’s quite literally a lovely place to start, but there is no author’s note or bibliography of sources available for the reader aside from a small paragraph on the back cover.

But for everything this book is, it’s a luxurious simplicity.

ch

I received a review copy from NorthSouth Books, but all opinions are my own.

3 Comments

  • Kathy Mazurowski
    Posted September 8, 2015 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I love the idea of this book and can’t wait to find it. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  • Sarah Yewman
    Posted September 8, 2015 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Oooh, nice!

  • Posted September 11, 2015 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Hadn’t even HEARD of this book, but now I am in loooove! The art has touches of both Eloise and Madeline. <3