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Chanel: A Woman of Her Own [Paperback]

Axel Madsen
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt & Company Inc; 1st Owl Book Ed edition (1 Jan 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805016392
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805016390
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 350,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Axel Madsen (born May 27, 1930) was a Danish-American biographer and journalist. Born in Copenhagen and raised in Paris, Madsen turned from music to writing in the early 1950s, initially for the Paris edition of the New York Herald Tribune. In 1956 he moved to Canada and began working for United Press International. He moved to Hollywood in the early 1960s.

Biographies included Billy Wilder, Barbara Stanwyck, Coco Chanel, John Jacob Astor, Jacques Cousteau, Yves St. Laurent, André Malraux, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, William C. Durant, William Wyler, and John Huston.

He died of cancer in Los Angeles in 2007.

Product Description


Chronicles Gabrielle Chanel's remarkable climb from poverty to the forefront of the international fashion industry and explores her illustrious collection of friends and lovers.

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4.0 out of 5 stars Great one 2 May 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is one of the best book about Coco Chanel, anyone should have to read or even nice piece to collect!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  29 reviews
98 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chanel Bio is everything it should be. 21 Sep 2006
By Regis Fox - Published on Amazon.com
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. Madsen has succeeded in writing a biography that does not fall short as other books on Chanel have in the past. His biography begins BEFORE her birth and continues on AFTER her death. He explores her roots and discusses the ongoing impact of her life, while filling in all the opulent details in between. If you want to know who Chanel was and why she is still so important today, pick up this book. Now if they would only do a feature film treatment!
50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book, full of details and historically correct. 28 Jun 1999
By tsetsitasheva@yahoo.com - Published on Amazon.com
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.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of an Icon 30 Dec 2008
By Red Pineapple - Published on Amazon.com
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!
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Chanel book review 22 Sep 2005
By Julie L. Jestila - Published on Amazon.com
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read about the legend. 9 Jan 2010
By Tami Melendez - Published on Amazon.com
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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