Don't judge a book by it's cover they say. Then why do publishers work so hard on creating delectable covers and silver edged pages? To tempt impulsive people like me, that's why. I saw this pretty little thing in the shops recently and snaffled it immediately. Given that I think I've never seen a single episode of Sex and the City, nor read the books and clearly live under some kind of unfashionable rock I had no idea who Megan Hess was (hint she's a very talented Australian fashion illustrator). Of course even I have heard of Coco Chanel but sadly I have never bought a single Chanel item- although perhaps I need to fix that oversight now? I think I just might.
Coco Chanel is presented in three sections. The Woman. The Brand. The Icon. There is a definite air of legend about the woman of course. It's fascinating to read her back story, and incredible that an illegitimate girl born in 19th century rural France would become such an icon of fashion and elegance redefining the 20th century and having a lasting legacy even now. Is it true that the beige, black and white of the nun's habits of the orphanage where she lived after her mother died when she was twelve would become the cornerstones of the "simple palate" that would define the Chanel look? Actually I didn't know that Chanel used a rather restricted palate of black, white, beige, gold and red. Although I guess that's how you get to be classy.
And Coco Chanel was classy. She liked to pop round to Angelina's each day for a chocolat chaud. Well, why wouldn't you? And as there was no bed in her private apartment above her studio at 31 rue Cambon she maintained a suite at the Ritz. Where she would die in 1971. Stylish to the end really.
I learnt so much about Coco the woman and Chanel the brand. The iconic quilted handbag, recognisable even to me is called a 2.55. Rather annoyingly the book didn't tell me why it had such an odd name, but an easy google search tells me it was because it was released in February 1955. Ah. So obvious when you know. The linked C logo was created in 1921 for Chanel No 5, and camellias have been associated with Chanel since 1933. And that instantly recognisable tweed suit worn by everyone including Marge Simpson dates from 1925.
Most fascinating was that Coco Chanel closed up shop for 14 years! She closed her business with the declaration of war in 1939. "This is no time for fashion". She toughed out the war at the Ritz with her German officer lover. She then fled to Switzerland when Paris was liberated in 1944. She wasn't to resume her fashion activities for another decade.
Chanel never sketched her clothing like other designers, instead she cut straight into them. She would simply throw cloth onto a mannequin, cutting the shapeless mass of fabric until her desired silhouette emerged. Even into her old age, a pair of silver-plated scissors permanently dangled from Chanel's neck so she could make alterations as she made her way around the cutting-room floor.
While Chanel's story is interesting the standout is Megan Hess's wondrous illustrations. Megan has an iconic style all of her own.
All apparently created with a bespoke Mont Blanc pen called Monty. I have serious case of house envy too.
|Dreaming of France is a wonderful Monday meme|
from Paulita at An Accidental Blog
|French Bingo 2015|