From “Coco Chanel: The Illustrated World of a Fashion Icon” by Megan Hess (Hardie Grant).

Looking at images of Coco Chanel, I wonder what she might have thought in her later years when she reflected back on her life – from her early childhood of struggle, to the excitement and drama that she first created in her tiny atelier, to the success of the House of Chanel that she built. I imagine she would have been very proud indeed. I wonder if she ever really understood how many people, such as myself, she has truly inspired.

When Chanel shows in Grand Palais in Paris each season, I like to picture Coco watching from above from her famous mirrored staircase, overseeing her classic designs recreated many times over on a world stage.

This book is the illustrated story of Chanel’s life  — an insight into her magical world, the iconic designs she created, and the empire of the House of Chanel.

Chanel would rise above her circumstances to forever revolutionise fashion for women in the modern era. Her beauty and flair won her many friends and admirers; the most celebrated figures of the century – Cocteau, Diaghilev, Picasso, Dalí, Stravinsky and Churchill – sought her company. The creative vision of her designs would live on as trademarks of an iconic fashion brand.

 Chanel’s designs were inspired and brave: she was one of the first to design women’s trousers, brought black from mourning dress to eveningwear and introduced the use of jersey from the realm of sportswear to luxury dress. Chanel’s comfortable and elegant aesthetic would resonate through the decades. The first half of the twentieth century was a time that saw a dramatic shift in the role of the sexes. Chanel’s gamine silhouette and shortened hemlines, now synonymous with the brand, allowed women to discard their corsets and embrace modernism. Chanel was a woman who designed for other women, delivering garments that mirrored their changing role in society.

— Megan Hess from the Introduction