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Comment: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
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Chanel: A Woman of her Own Paperback – September 15, 1991

4.0 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

French designer Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel (1883-1971) created elegant women's clothing and had a succession of celebrated friends and lovers from Winston Churchill to Igor Stravinsky. "Madsen does a commendable job of ferreting out the seeming truth of a woman apparently as deft at fabricating her own life as she was with a needle and thread," said PW. Photos.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Madsen takes the reader on a fantastic journey through the incredible and bittersweet life of Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel, the woman who forever changed the world of modern fashion with the creation of the simple, elegant black dress, costume jewelry, and her own special perfume. Intertwining Chanel's business ventures, wealth, glamour, and influences, the biography is filled with fascinating and emotional stories of personal triumph, success and tragedy, social intrigue, and sexual escapades with nobility, artists, and politicians. The text, broken down into four parts, focuses on her life from her birth and childhood years to her early business success, her decline following the demoralizing events of World War II, and her amazing comeback at the age of 70 to the haute couture world she helped create. Recommended.
- Stephen Allan Patrick, East Tennessee State Univ., Johnson City
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; Reprint edition (September 15, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805016392
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805016390
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #789,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I found it strange that some readers gave negative or highly critical reviews of this biography. Someone even commented on the difficulty in reading the French names! It's a little late to change Chanel's nationality and thank God! This biography is successful on a number of levels but primarily two: it recounts the fascinating life, in great detail, of the late Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel and it puts her professional contribution to the world in context. On a personal level, her life-story reads as a Dickens novel. Her's is a truly "rags-to-riches" story. Chanel was a woman who created a life and a legend against the odds. She was one of those rare and stunning creatures rising from practically nothing to become a household name. Her family was destitute. Her father abandoned her at an orphanage. Her attempts in music and theatre came to nothing. Her sewing skills were atrocious! Only after a young gentleman named Balsan recognized her talent through her unconventional beauty did her true potential begin to emerge. Chanel knew all of the greatest people of her age: Stravinsky, Cocteau, Dali, Misia Sert, and the Duke of Westminster, among others. Many of these people she knew intimately. How tragic that even after these acquaintances and global successes as a designer, Chanel never really found success in love. Professionally, the impact of her designs are still with us today and influencing generations of new designers and artists. From a perspective of fashion, Chanel almost single-handedly pulled the 19th century world into the modern age by pulling women out of corsets and sliding them into pants. The "little black dress" and classic Chanel suit are not only articles of clothing, they are timeless works of art.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
This book was extremely interesting to read. Considering Chanel's habbit of often lying about her past, many biographers had given up on trying to tell her story. That's probably why the book lacks reasoning behind certain facts of her life, although the author did the best he could to provide his own viewpoint about some of the unenswered questions. The book is wonderful and it leaves the reader with plenty of room to use his/her own imagination to reveal some of the mysteries behind Chanel's great genious.
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Format: Paperback
As an enthusiastic admirer of Coco Chanel's style and of the fashions she created, I was excited to read this book. I was surprised to find out that Chanel was an immensely complex and interesting person, even aside from her creative life. She came from very humble beginnings, lived through two world wars, survived tragedies, heartbreaks, and scandals, and through it all, she worked hard to realize her dreams of success. She is someone whom even non-fashionistas can admire. She was tenacious and clever, and her innate sense of style came through in everything she did.

This book features wonderful photographs of Chanel, a handy index, and even a guide to the author's sources. For anyone who is even remotely interested in fashion, this book is a god-send. For everyone else, this book tells the story of a courageous and complicated woman who fought for her success and did things her own way. This was one of the best books I read in 2007, and I will definitely re-read it in 2008!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a good book about Chanel, but funny, after reading it, I came to quite dislike her as a person. It really gives you some insight into who she was as a person, besides being a designer, and couture queen. Read this if you want to get to know Chanel better!
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Format: Paperback
I really loved devouring this book. Miss Gabrielle Coco Chanel is one of the most fascinating women I have ever read about. She is one of the first feminist as far as I'm concerned. Thanks to her we are not wearing corsets and dresses everyday. The book opened up a whole new side of her that I didn't know, like her relationship with the Nazi German officer.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in fashion and or history because its a real page turner.
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Format: Paperback
I agree with the other 2 reviewers. This book is very difficult to follow and the author jumps from character to character and topic to topic too frequently. The pictures are nice, but I feel the author could have done a better job at creating more excitement and interest for the reader.
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Format: Paperback
I have to admit that I am facinated by Coco Chanel and love to read all things that I can about her. This book was very factual and really gave me a good sense of knowing who she was. I'd recommend it to all fans of the legend.
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Format: Paperback
This biography was well-researched and competently done, but unfortunately while Coco Chanel is certainly famous her life story just is not that interesting. Growing up in an orphanage, Chanel translated her good looks and sexy character to affairs with rich, aristocratic men who gave her the capital and support to start her own botique to sell hats to the rich ladies who were part of her circle of acquaintances. From that auspicious beginning, her ascent was assured. The aftermath of World War II wasn't particularly kind to her (she would have been jailed for consorting with her German lover, except she threatened to reveal that all the rich were consorting with Germans because it's in the nature of the rich to consort with anyone that could benefit or hurt them), and there was a quiet period in her life when she seemed to fade away. But most of her life Chanel has always dominated the top of the fashion world. That's great for her, but it doesn't make for a particularly entertaining story.
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