A monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.
Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of HistoryGarelick, Rhonda K.
Until the movie “Coco Before Chanel,” the only thing I knew about Coco Chanel or her products was her name and the perfume Chanel No. 5. But after I saw this film, I found myself intrigued with her rags to riches story and eagerly awaited reading Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History to find out more about her.
The other biographies I have read have all been of individuals whose actions were admirable in the way they changed the world. And yet, even with these, there were incidents that showed them in a less favorable light. Reading about Coco Chanel was a different type of biography for me. While Coco did indeed change the world, many of the stories about her show her in a less favorable light than the other individuals I have read about before.
Yet, hers is a fascinating story that describes the incredible talent and vision of one woman who more or less single-handedly created haute couture for women the world over. Not content with status quo, Coco continued to drive herself and others, re-envisioning and re-designing as times and events changed her and the women of the world. She was sought out by the wealthy of both sexes and her lovers were from among the richest of the rich.
For all her flaws, one can’t help but admire trendsetting Coco who set women free from the long skirts and washer-women hairdos of the day to a look that is classic and continues to inspire in 2015. Vogue magazine recently ran a full-page ad for Chanel products. In classic black and white, the head and shoulders photo of a model turned slightly to the side, simply adorned with pearls worn backwards, one of Coco Chanel’s signature looks, spoke volumes of how Chanel continues to be at the forefront of fashion today.
How I wish I had known more about her during my whirlwind weekend in Paris. If I ever get the chance to go there again, I will look up 29 Rue Cambon, as well as 31 Rue Cambon, her apartment.
Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History is located in the Popular reading: nonfiction section of the PLC 1st fl.