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.
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.
First up: endpapers. From beginning to ending, from scraps to something refined.
Coco, fragile as an eggshell, a mistake, a nothing, an orphan.
But the nuns saw her talent for sewing, and Coco was happy.
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 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.
So Coco created a hat shop. She created comfortable, easy clothing for women.
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.
I received a review copy from NorthSouth Books, but all opinions are my own.