“Chanel is the eighth wonder of the world.”
— John Fairchild
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I always read first thing in the morning. I’ll set my alarm an extra 30 minutes early, most days, just to indulge in quiet time with my coffee & a good book. These are usually the only tranquil minutes of my day until 6:00 pm, when I close my laptop & spend an hour in Yoga.
And I’m sure I’m not the only whose days are filled with phone calls, meetings, & traffic jams. It seems the older I get, the more I need this quiet morning ritual. Besides, it’s pretty incredible how many books you can read in a year just by spending 30 minutes every morning reading.
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I’ve been wanting to read more biographies lately, especially of women who have lived purposefully and meaningfully. So let me take a minute to tell you just how unbelievable Chanel’s life story is (and why you should read this book!). It’s a reminder, I think, that life’s challenges are small when heaped up against courage, determination, and singularity of focus.
Perhaps what makes Chanel’s story the most intriguing is the fact that she was abandoned as a child and raised by nuns. Her family was poor peasants, her mother died when she was very young, and Chanel’s father dropped his two daughters off at an orphanage and (supposedly) moved to America to make a living. So how an orphaned peasant girl turned into the woman who forever changed couture fashion, is what makes this story captivating.
Not only did Chanel emerge from (very!) humble beginnings, she also socialized with the most prestigious & wealthy people of the time. For example, during the summer months, she and a group of friends would spend their days fishing in southern France with Winston Churchill. And eventually, when Chanel had made her unfathomable fortune, she funded artists such as Dali & Stravinsky.
What is most compelling about this story, however, isn’t what Chanel acquired or produced. It’s what she didn’t have. And the regrets that haunted her later in life. She went to bed, each night, with an injection of morphine & dreams haunted her until the day she died. This woman, so fierce & successful, played cards at night with her butler & lulled herself to sleep with a pill or an injection.
And so, despite the magic of the 1920s or the glamour of couture, Chanel’s biography is filled with insight for our own lives. Her personal story is one of triumph, courage, & success. But it is also one of revenge, drama, & regret. This is why we read biographies of great people, right? It simultaneously reinforces the myth behind their lives while revealing their humanity.
It’s been a while since I’ve read a book as mesmerizing as this one! This one gets 5 stars from me. Plus, it’s printed in the most beautiful paper & the pictures alone make it worth buying the real book instead of an e-book.
I hope you read it, too. And I hope you love it as much as I did.
“A woman with good shoes is never ugly, they are the last touch of elegance.”
— Coco Chanel
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Coco Chanel | Coco Chanel Biogrphy