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Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life Hardcover – 16 Sep 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition, First Impression edition (16 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007317611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007317615
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 3.3 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 144,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"[A] gripping new biography... In the deftest prose, Picardie plots one of the most extraordinary lives of the 20th Century. The book is lavishly illustrated, too, with images of iconic outfits and intimate photos from Chanel's private albums.'--Mail on Sunday, September 26, 2010

The author is at her best in the analysis of (Chanel's) throw-away lines, picking up every discarded clue and using it suggestively. --Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2010

(An) elegant book...The Chanel uncovered by Picardie is a storyteller. --The Telegraph Review, October 2, 2010

"Justine Picardie’s vividly told account of Coco Chanel’s life has all the elements of a novel: the mystery, the sense of loss, the quest for fame and fortune, the distinguished lovers... in the style of Chanel herself."--Daily Mail, October 8, 2010

'The French fashion icon finds a shrewd and sympathetic interpreter in Justine Picardie... this handsome volume cleverly blends the life and afterlife of the enigma who became a brand."--The Independent, November 1, 2010

From the Publisher

VIDEO PHOTO CREDITS:

© "Collection Schall" Photo Roger Schall (Chanel, reclining on her beige sofa, in her apartment, 1938)
Jean Moral © 1938 (Chanel at the dressing table in her suite at the Ritz hotel, Paris)
© Jérôme Gautier (Stairs and detail of window at Aubazine Abbey)
© Frédérik Astier/Sygma/Corbis (Double C of Chanel's logo)
Hugo Vickers Collection (Chanel in the drawing room at Eaton Hall, photographed by the Duchess of Marlborough and Chanel at the races with Winston Churchill)
Jean Moral © 1938 (Chanel in pearls)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Yes, some aspects of Chanel's life were confusing: she herself gave so many different accounts to friends and biographers, particularly about her difficult childhood. But Justine Picardie deftly unpicks the lies, weighs up the evidence and provides what must be the definitive account of the great Mademoiselle's remarkable life and career.

And in a life that stretched from 1883 to 1971 Chanel met, dressed and romanced a glittering cast of characters: French artists, poets and playboys; Russian royals and musicians; British aristocrats and politicians; German soldiers and intelligence officers; Hollywood producers and film stars. Far from labouring Chanel's association with all of these characters, Picardie steers a delicate and compelling path through the maze of Chanel's social and professional life. And in so doing, she highlights a wealth of intriguing discoveries: the truth about Chanel's controversial wartime activities; the intriguing consequences of her friendship with Churchill; her role as a chatelaine in London society; and her regular visits to the highlands of Scotland to fish for salmon - with spectacular success - in between launching the little black dress and other timeless designs.

The production values of this book are terrific: I've rarely seen paper of this quality in a mainstream book; and the photographs - many never seen before - are sensational. But this is far from being merely a beautiful picture book that will appeal to followers of style and fashionistas: it is a truly comprehensive biography written in Picardie's distinctively personal style which carries the weight of her thorough research lightly.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the 4th bio of Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel that I have read and easily my favourite in terms of content. Readability wise, it's sometimes hard work as the typeset is small and entire pages of text can appear overwhelming. My advice - persevere because the depth of detail is staggering. There are many beautiful photos throughout (again, I would have preferred glossy photos), some of which I've not seen before, as well as snippets of letters and illustrations.

All the major aspects are explored in terms of her style, her muse's, her brand 'development' if you like - how did an abandoned little girl turn into one of the Worlds greatest style icon's? Chapters include information on her iconic statements - the linked C logo, the tweed, number 5, the riviera stripes and THAT bag - the 2.55 (I would personally kill for one!!!)- if any of these items make you salivate,this is a must buy! Essentially, she was a fascinating woman - a legend - and I loved the way JP humanised her and brought her back down to Earth by highlighting her foibles as well as her achievements and this really brought her to life for me.

Her journey is fascinating and excellently documented here - I have to salute JP!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think this is an excellent biography of Chanel and Justine Picardie has done a remarkable job in writing such a comprehensive, and very readable, account of her achievements. And those achievements are truly remarkable - from being an abandoned child to leading designer of the fashion world - the little black dress, the perfume, the handbag, the little suit. From being a seamstress to mingling with the great and the good (and sometimes the bad) such as Winston Churchill, Jackie Kennedy, Nijinsky, the Duke of Westminster, one of her long-term lovers, and many more famous characters. I liked the ways she seemed always to remain on good terms with her ex-lovers.
Chanel invented many versions of her own story and Picardie clearly went to great lengths to research this biography and to tease out (as far as it is ever possible to do) the truth from Chanel's fictions. I feel Chanel still remains something of an enigma ,as though she lets no one, regardeless of how hard they try, quite get to the essence of her. I also felt there was a huge sadness in her despite her spectacular successes. She changed the way women dressed and thought about themselves, in a way male fashion designers never did.
This is an absolutely fascinating account and beautifully produced book with lots of photographs (wish they could have been bigger), many never published before and illustrations. Reviewed by Mary Smith author of No More Mulberries
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very disappointing in that this book is a collection of facts... I would say ramblings ... and managed to take an interesting and amazing subject 'Coco Chanel' and render it boring. It is written in the style you would expect to read on Wikipedia, whereas I wanted a biography ... A factual 'story'... I really wouldn't have thought that was too much to ask...
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A satisfying real life tale of rags to riches tale of Coco Chanel reveals a strong women who made her way up to the higher circles of her time. She established an allure, a romance, a mystery so that even this detailed autobiography leaves questions about her life and real feelings. It is inspirational to a young entrepreneur as she battled through all kinds of setback, problem and disappointment but eventually has led to a household name that has survived the years as a quality luxury product.
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