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Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Life Lessons From The World's Most Elegant Woman Hardcover – September 1, 2009
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“Anyone with a good sense of humor should hugely enjoy, or should I say enjoie, Karen Karbo's funny and stylish take on Coco Chanel. Like a little black dress, this handy life guide will take you from day into evening. K.K. on C.C.: oui, oui!”―Henry Alford, author of How to Live: A Search for Wisdom from Old People (While They are Still on This Earth)
"Wise, witty, and refreshingly colloquial, The Gospel According to Coco Chanel is an enchanting tour through the complex, often controversial life of fashion icon Chanel. Filled with relevant life lessons for the modern woman, this book is Karbo at her irrepressible best."
From the Inside Flap
Born in 1883 in a poorhouse in southern France to unmarried parents, Chanel was raised in a convent after her mother died when she was six and her father abandoned her. The nuns taught her to sew, and while working as a café singer in the early 1900s she began designing hats for fun. Her lovers included a wealthy English industrialist, who helped her set up her own millinery shop and steered his society friends her way.
Chanel grew up to be the woman who not only gave us the little black dress and boxy jackets, but also popularized pants for women and easy, practical clothes that allowed women a chic freedom they’d never known before. In her strong-headed, elegant, opinionated, passionate, entirely French way, Coco Chanel helped bring women into the modern era. She was the only fashion icon to be named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century.
The Gospel According to Coco Chanel is a captivating, offbeat look at style, celebrity, and self-invention—all held together with Karbo’s droll Chanel-style commentary and culled from an examination of Chanel’s difficult childhood and triumphant adulthood, passionate love affairs, career choices, habits, eccentricities, and personal philosophies. Weaving Chanel’s life story into chapter themes that subtly convey life lessons, and with Chesley McLaren’s charming illustrations, it will leave the reader utterly entranced with, and inspired by, Chanel’s amazing individuality, confidence, and determination.
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Top Customer Reviews
The other compelling thing about this book is that once you get past self-interest, you discover that Coco Chanel was an amazing woman. She invented modern fashion, and to do so had to rise above poverty and an actual orphanage. This was great material to draw on and reshape, which she did: Ms. Karbo says Chanel "lied about or embellished everything in her childhood...she had no respect for anything she didn't create, and that included her own history." Her trajectory included being a shopgirl, seamstress, cafe singer, and kept woman before she got to couturiere extraordinaire, and she owed nothing to anyone but herself. She was self-made and a revolutionary.
Karen Karbo tells Coco Chanel's story in a lively way and mines it for usable wisdom. I recommend this book for any fashionista, for sure, and for any francophile, and for any woman who loves the struggle. I especially like it for women who make things or strive to make things, like books or sculpture or businesses or anything else. The Gospel According to Coco Chanel is heartening and a lot of fun.
I struggled through the section, purportedly related to Chanel's "courage." According to Karbo, "In 1914, she was thirty-one, a few years past the age when women who were were neither married nor mothers were written off as 'redundant.' In this way things haven't changed much... To be thirty-one and unmarried is the same tragedy now as it was a hundred years ago."
Really?? not in New York... (what year was this book written??)
And I finally had enough when I read Karbo's description of the fact that Chanel never married: "While MANAGING TO MARRY is no guarantee that you know a single thing about the intracacies of loving and being loved, failing to make that final commitment suggests that somehow you never made it to the big leagues. If you're a woman, it suggests that something was deeply wrong with you, or, paradoxically, right with you; being too successful, too gorgeous, too smart and too sexy have also been known to send prospective suitors scampering down the mountainside..." (emphasis added)
First of all, this chapter teaches NOTHING about the Gospel According to Coco Chanel (the title of the book). Second, the author apparently sees marriage as something that women must "manage" to do--like "managing" to take a first prize in a contest?Read more ›
The book was overall interesting, I did have a problem with the writing style. I am no literary critic, and am not somebody who normally picks up on these types of things, but I thought his book was poorly written. I don't think an editor could have even fixed it. It read like the author's thoughts were in a million different directions. None of the chapters made cohesive sense. The author also tried to create these rules of living like Coco Chanel, yet, none of the rules had any solid facts to back them up, it was almost like it was only the authors opinion of life, rather than facts based on how Coco Chanel really lived.
I recommend reading a book about Coco Chanel since she is an interesting woman, but I do not recommend reading this book.
Like Chanel herself, Ms. Karbo does not disappoint. Her writing style is tremendous -- witty and fun, moving and historically insightful, she is like a terrific dinner party guest you want to stay for the weekend (and tell nonstop Coco Chanel stories, of course).
I picked this book up as an impulse on one of the front tables of B+N, and read it over the course of two days.
As a modern woman who loves Chanel, I am suggesting it to all my stylish girlfriends, it would make a perfect hostess gift.
And by the way, I HOPE that Karbo gets that real Chanel jacket she is dreaming of.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A good book to read while traveling. Light but engrossing. Brings Coco to life.Published 17 days ago by Mumsie
one of my favorite books !! I am fan of Coco and this was a very cute !!Published 2 months ago by Jazmin B.
Bought this book for my teenage daughter who is a big fan of Coco Chanel. The book has some great advice for young ladies.Published 3 months ago by William Mitchell
Had this book before and gave it to a friend. I love it!!!!Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Love anything about Chanel. Though I will never be able to afford my dream 2.55 bag, I can enjoy her quotes and ideas about style. I have found style really can't be bought... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Natalie K.
Fun light read about a very interesting person and her times. Chanel was certainly an original character! It was a prefect lazy vacation read.Published 6 months ago by Lady Nijo