In the past two years alone, she’s been the subject of a Lifetime television special starring Shirley MacLaine and of two motion pictures featuring Audrey Tautou and Anna Mouglalis. Now, Coco Chanel is in the spotlight yet again, this time as the topic of a new biography, “Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life,” out today from Harper Collins.
If fashion lovers think they’ve already learned all there is to know about the icon, the book’s author, London-based fashion journalist Justine Picardie, maintains she’s covered new ground. “People could say, ‘How on earth could someone British tell the story of one of the greatest French couturiers?’ But I think I was able to offer my own contribution,” says Picardie, who served as features director at British Vogue until 2002 and now writes a style column for The Telegraph. “Nobody had ever looked at [Chanel] within the context of her relations with the British and the Americans, and the more I looked [in my research] there were a lot of British connections that had never been examined.”
Chief among them: Chanel’s foray into London society during the Forties and Fifties, a period when she palled around with Winston Churchill and enjoyed a love affair with the Duke of Westminster. “Those details are really, really crucial to the story of Chanel,” says the author. Certainly Picardie makes that point clear in the book, dedicating an entire chapter to the designer’s affair with the dashing duke, at that time the richest man in Britain (whose heir, Gerald Grosvenor, continues to be among the country’s richest).
Of course, unearthing such intimate details would be difficult for any biographical subject, but Picardie’s task was particularly tricky with Chanel.
“She covered her tracks endlessly,” says the writer, who began her research for the project more than a decade ago. “I mean, this is a woman who changed the date of her birth.”
While Picardie remains tight-lipped about many of the sources she consulted for the project, she says she relied a great deal on British Secret Service files and used her connections in the fashion industry to gain access to the Chanel archives. “I started out as an investigative journalist for the Sunday Times,” she says. “So it was just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and piecing together the clues.”
One set of clues to which Picardie paid special attention were those surrounding the designer’s alleged support of the Nazi party, a rumor born out of the designer’s love affair with a German official. “I don’t believe Chanel was a Nazi,” declares the author, noting Chanel’s relationship with the officer is still a fact. “I found the truth is far, far more complicated than that [and] I hope I’ve established a pretty clear narrative about what happened.”
Not that Picardie, who has written three previous books, including “Daphne,” a historical fiction account of “Rebecca” author Daphne du Maurier, believes she’s even come close to offering the final word on the designer.
“You could make a dozen movies about Chanel and still not have covered her entire story,” she says.
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)