MADEMOISELLE . . . COCO CHANEL AND THE PULSE OF HISTORY

 

 

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In 1955 I discovered Vogue Magazine.   An elegant, exotic, exciting and completely new world spilled from the pages.

The one shoe store in our small town sold shoes in two colours – black and brown.  White shoes for nurses.  Clothing came in three styles – practical, matronly and Eaton’s catalog. I was young.  I wanted more.    I devoured Vogue.  I discovered Coco Chanel.

 

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My clothing budget was meager.

I raided Woolworth’s Five and Dime  for strands of pearls.

I bought men’s tortoise shell frames for my eye glasses

 

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I sewed white collars and cuffs onto my dark suits and black dresses.

And insanely and extravagantly  I spent a weeks salary on a bottle of Chanel No 5 perfume.

All because of Coco Chanel!

 

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MADEMOISELLE    COCO CHANEL  and the pulse of history  by Rhonda K. Garelick is a riveting biography of one of the most fascinating woman of the 20th century.

If you admire Chanel.  Love fashion.  Adore Paris – then dive into this book for interesting new information about this woman who created a global icon – CHANEL NO 5.

 

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This book is an intriguing  glimpse into the life of Chanel – warts and all.  If you find the tales of  Chanel reinventing herself repetitious – ignore them!   If the amount of words overwhelm you – skip a few pages.  If you feel the photographs are too small – be clever and Goggle image of some of the men in her life.  You’ll be rewarded with dozens of photographs  of Boy Capel, Igo Stravinsky, Grand Duke Dmitri, Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster and poet Pierre Reverdy.

 

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Chanel transformed forever the way we dress.   The little black dresses, flat shoes, elaborate costume jewelry, cardigan sweaters, jersey knits.    She took women out of strait jacket corsets and put them into everything from evening dresses and her classic boucle suits to “boyfriend’s” clothes, fisherman’s sweaters and sailor pants. Today you see these fashions on  women of every age and every background.

 

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I continue my ongoing and long love affair with all things Chanel.   Because of Chanel I fell in love with Paris and all things French.  In my garden  Camellias are blooming.   White Camellias  – Coco Chanel’s favorite flower.

 

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22 thoughts on “MADEMOISELLE . . . COCO CHANEL AND THE PULSE OF HISTORY

  1. I’m with you–I love her fashions and jewelry, even today. They are elegant, always impeccably tailored, and to me, symbolize a powerful brand of femininity. Simplified luxury. And very French…

  2. I so loved your post and your passion and love for CoCo brings her so to life. But, my darling, Virginia, the photo of you is BREATHTAKING…….STUNNING……INSANE BEAUTY……Augustine and sat and admired your striking beauty for a long time. We discussed what dreams those delightful intense eyes might be seeing. Your tribute to CoCo was captured in that photo. Oh how I love thee. Your beauty, as that of Helen of Troy could make men wage war on one another as to have you as their queen. Oh I am squealing with delight!!!

    • Helen of Troy! Tiny darling Tiny, you have me gasping with pleasure. What a wonderful war that would have been! Here’s the scoop on the photo. I was working for a Calgary radio station and one of the chaps in the office was taking publicity pictures of the staff one day. I can absolutely guarantee you that I was wearing zero make up that day. I did take off my tortoise-shell rimmed glasses and perhaps was gazing into the abyss looking for Nietzsche’s monsters. XX OO V.

  3. Oh, I love this post, Virginia! Thanks for the book recommendation. I’ve just ordered a copy of Rhonda Garelick’s “Mademoiselle.” Looks like an intriguing read! But Good. GOLLY. I agree with Monsieur Tin Man. Your publicity photograph looks like a Hollywood press shot. Very glamorous. SEW stylish! Fantastic earrings. Do they have a story? Yes, hands-down, you clearly outshine Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel! ~Theadora (I’m looking forward to the read! Say, do you save your old bottles of fragrance. Little time capsules . . .)

    • Theadora, tucked away a amongst lingerie and t-shirts are my empty bottles of perfume. Their fragrance lingers for a very long time. I also look for beautifully designed empty perfume bottles at Thrift Shops. Here’s the story of the over sized pearl earrings. I found them in a second- hand store in a 10 cent bag of junk jewelery. I believe you will appreciate the research that has gone into MADEMOISELLE. The bibliography is extensive. Ignore the repetitive and dull bits – it is still a good read about an extraordinary woman. XX V.

      • Virginia, I love story of the over sized pearl earrings. What a find! Again, thanks for the book recommendation. I’m really looking forward to the new MADEMOISELLE read, along with testing Chanel’s “Misia” fragrance. I think it is a new release . . . ~T.

      • Off I go to Holt Renfrew (Vancouver’s pale version of Galeries Lafayette) to wander in luxury. To glory in the latest fashions. And to sample Misia. Thanks for the heads up!.

    • No matter what her behavior during World War Two We have to acknowledge Chanel was an amazing woman. One of the wealthiest woman in the world – driven – but unhappy. XX V

  4. I adore Channel, too! I have a couple of books on her. She was truly amazing! I’ll keep my eyes open for this one when I’m at the bookstore.
    Yes, I still enjoy browsing around a brick and mortar bookstore.
    I think that the beautiful, elegant woman in the 3rd shot is you! Fabulous!
    Virginia, I did not win the award. However, I had the best time. I’m trying to come up with an idea for a post… maybe a new Art Gown. Or?? Well, if I need a poem to go with it, perhaps you would consider writing it?
    Thank you for being excited for me. You are wonderful!
    _Resa XOXO

  5. Oh, I LOVE this nod to Flowers, Fashion, and Pearls, too. Gorgeous, Virginia! Your portrait is so marvelous and wonderful. YES. “Pearls are always appropriate,” as Jackie O! used to say.

    • Dear Miss T. When in doubt about a fashion purchase I ask myself “would Coco Chanel approve”). Consequently I am still wearing clothes purchased more than thirty years ago. It speaks well for investment dressing, My 50th birthday pearls – a rather long string – I wear frequently. Even with T-shirts. XXOO Virginia

      • YES. I’m a big time believer in investment dressing. Again, pearls are the perfect statement piece. I just found a little headpiece-tiara with eight tiny black pearls and about 31 tiny crystals. A timeless treasure, I think . . .

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