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Chanel: Her style and her life Hardcover – October 20, 1998


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese; 1st edition (October 20, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385488726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385488723
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 8.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #760,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Coco Chanel: her name is synonymous with luxury and elegance. But little Gabrielle Chanel was raised in an orphanage and schooled in a convent--having lost her mother and been virtually abandoned by her father. She picked up the nickname Coco when she was a young cabaret singer--"Ko Ko Rik Ko" ("Cock-a-doodle-do") being the only song she could sing. Those early years of deprivation fueled her lifelong pursuits of strong, doting men and, more famously, high fashion. After she spent years making her own clothes, hats were the first Chanel designs to earn her some recognition and a little bit of money. Bankrolled by a wealthy boyfriend--her first of many--and worn by famous opera singers, the hats--which liberated women from the complicated and extravagantly festooned headgear of the early 1900s--were the first of Chanel's many successful fashion innovations. She borrowed heavily from men's closets, belting their jackets and sweaters and pairing them with skirts to make comfortable suits for working women. She pioneered pants as eveningwear for women and invented clothing that could be worn during the day and into the night. A crisp white collar, perhaps a reference to her convent days, was a common element in her designs. She decorated her unstructured Jersey knits with pearl necklaces and faux jewels and furs so that, despite their comfort, her clothes were always luxurious. As her design empire and fame grew, so did Coco Chanel's social circle. Igor Stravinsky, the duke of Westminster, Salvador Dali, and Jean Cocteau numbered among her most intimate friends, while Princess Grace and countless Hollywood stars and European royalty were devoted to her clothes.

Chanel: Her Style and Her Life combines large black-and-white photos of the designer, her clothes and jewelry, and her lavishly decorated homes with the story of her life. The result is a book that proves how closely Chanel's career and her personal life were intertwined--how her life played out in her style and how her style, ultimately, was the sum of Coco Chanel's life.

From Publishers Weekly

When she realized that the great love of her life, shipping and coal magnate Arthur "Boy" Capel, wouldn't marry a courtesan, Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel settled for his backing in business and opened her first high-fashion shop. According to Wallach's pictorial biography, such pragmatism characterized Chanel throughout her life, as each of her many famous lovers?Igor Stravinsky, Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovich and the Duke of Westminster among them?helped her with money, influence or, at the very least, access to a smashing personal wardrobe. Profuse, if sometimes redundant, illustrations chronicle the canny Frenchwoman's progress from fashion iconoclast to couture icon. Wallach earnestly details the designer's innovations: Chanel popularized the jersey and cardigan and pants for women; legitimized costume jewelry; invented the "little black dress"; developed the ubiquitous, eponymous suit, as well as her trademark fragrance, Chanel No. 5. But as biography, the book offers little more than a list of Chanel's accomplishments and acquaintances. Wallach's (Desert Queen) text is variously silly, sentimental and strangely unidiomatic ("her modest means could never match their well-heeled bank accounts"). Some of the more intriguing details, involving the designer's failure in Hollywood and her romantic and financial connections with the Nazis, suggest a complex, calculating, passionate woman. But the book's most telling moments ultimately don't tell enough about the woman who more or less invented the modern fashion industry. 150 photos and illustrations.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 15, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This is a spectacularly beautiful and insightful view of a woman who was the major force in 20th century fashion. It is elegantly written and sumptuously illustrated and no doubt will become the definitive book on Coco Chanel. I learned a great deal that I did not know before and I had a long career in fashion. This book will delight men as well as women because it contains many revealing stories about Chanel's sexual escapades. Buy it by all means!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Julia A. J on May 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I have always been fascinated by whatever's written about her ever since I received a Chanel purse for an 18th birthday present. There have been a number of books written about Chanel, I'm sure but Janet Wallach's will not disappoint any reader. It is simple and elegantly written with beautiful black and white illustrations. Even if one is not a fan of Chanel's style, you will be intrigued by her notorious life as told here. Either for yourself or a friend, a nice book to keep and look through now and again.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 7, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Another superb book from Janet Wallach. Engaging, provocative and insightful. Wallach brings her estimable research skills and writing talent to bear on a fascinating and controversial women who continues to demand attention, respect for her determination and accomplishments and fair judgment for the choices she made in her private life as a very public person.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 11, 1998
Format: Hardcover
For the first time we can see the story of Coco Chanel's life and the style it inspired side by side, in an elegantly produced, reasonably priced volume. Chanel called herself the first 20th century woman, and the fact that the way women dress today is due to her understanding of women, her independence and her fascinating life unfolds in Janet Wallach's narrative. Surely this is the least expensive Chanel one can buy and keep forever.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Wallach brings to life the vast complexities of Chanel's life as never before. The author's attentive research into the Chanel archives, her vivid anecdotes and insider's accounts of the rare creature that was Coco Chanel reveal volumes about the making of fashion, culture, and an icon. As does a comprehensive collection of photographs. This is quite simply an irresistable read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Flood on December 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Undoubtedly, this is a great book. The illustrations and photographs alone are worth the hefty price tag. The use of wording and the excitement in the authors "tone" provides one with great visions and imagery of her escapades and adventures.
The details are pretty good...however, there are, at times, several bits of information written about Chanel that is not accurate. Having read dozens of books and just about anything and everything ever printed about Mademoiselle, it struck a chord knowing that many people will read this book and believe that is the way certain things happened in her life, be it what she said or did, or did not do. And while it may not have necessarily meant to be a comprehensive, didactic text, allow yourself the pleasure of reading several books about Chanel to get a better understanding of one of the greatest women of all time.
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