This is the Coco Chanel book review that you must read before buying the book. That is because it is quite a big read. So you should know if you are willing to invest a lot of time into it. Of course, there are some spoilers ahead.
Coco Chanel book review
I have been wanting to read this book for such a long time! “Well, since you consider yourself such a fashion enthusiast, this book is a must-read, right?”
I have bought this book in December 2017. That is when I finally found it at its cheapest price: 5 $ ( 20 RON ), HERE. Before that, I have never seen a price below 13 $ ( 50 RON ). So when I saw this one on the website, I immediately ordered it.
The book begins in a very promising way. It presents the village where Gabrielle Chanel was born and how her ancestors, place of birth, and early years have strongly influenced her personality.
Gabrielle Chanel came from a poor and conservative family in Southern France. After a tumultuous childhood, her first interaction with fashion took place in her aunt Julia’s home. Gabrielle would see her creative aunt playing with hat designs. By occasionally helping her, Gabrielle has gathered ideas and principles that would further help her become one of the most popular fashion designers of her century (and of our time). I will not give too many details because I do not want to spoil the book.
But I cannot move on without mentioning how she got her name: Coco Chanel.
Where does “Coco” come from?
Gabrielle hasn’t always been a fashion enthusiast. During her 20s, her dream was to become a famous cabaret singer. “Qui a vu Coco dans l’Trocadero?” is the name of one of her songs. “Who has seen Coco at Trocadero?”
Gabrielle used to perform mainly in front of military officers. Due to her peculiar beauty, she would become one of the favorite singers, and her song one of the most popular ones. So whenever her public wanted an encore, they would simply scream for Coco to sing again.
The era of Coco Chanel
Another thing that I liked was the presentation of the era. The book presents a lot of aspects, such as the outfits, the people, and the way things worked, in a very explicit way. Therefore the readers get immersed into that universe.
What I liked the most was the way the “woman” was presented. In total conformity with the standards of the age. Women were pictured as delicate, snobbish creatures, who were only behaving in the appropriate way. The way other people (especially men) expected them to. Their duty was to be beautiful, fragile objects, created to be trophies alongside men.
Do you know why women used to wear uncomfortable heels? To make men feel strong when they helped their ladies climb stairs. Do you know why the dresses were so tight and uncomfortable? For the same reason.
Gabrielle was the one who went against the rules. She did not wear all those funny-looking feathered hats and uncomfortable clothes. Her style was minimalist, sometimes masculine, and elegant. She truly revolutionized the fashion industry, by reinventing fashion itself.
Even though she became powerful, rich and famous in the end, she never gave up on her principles. Gabrielle remained the same relentless, authoritarian person that she has been since the beginning. Her work was her most precious thing, so she never made compromises. As opposed to her loud success in terms of fashion, Gabrielle has never found the love that she was looking for.
Coco Chanel book
The first half of the book is dedicated to the beginning of her life, followed by her career and love life. The second half was extremely disappointing for me. It talked sooo much about the lives of her lovers and the war, with only sporadic mentions of Gabrielle. It was extremely boring, and apparently, I am not the only one who believes this, judging by the reviews.
I understand that she was also somehow implied into political businesses. I understand that it is important for the reader to know who were the people that she loved. But for me, it was just too much. I really do not care how many horses “von D…” ‘s father had, or how he got his nickname. It might just be fun to know, or maybe even remotely relevant for the action of the book. But I have bought the Coco Chanel book for the main character, the person on the cover, right? So that (huge) part was very disappointing for me. But, overall, I liked the book and recommend it for the people who want to know the person behind the famous Chanel fashion house. So here is the final grade:
Final grade: 8,50
The book was a good one. I do not regret reading it, even though it took me more than one month to finish it. I would have liked it more if it would have stuck to Gabrielle’s story. But half of the Coco Chanel book was about war and the stories of her lovers. Overall, I give it an 8,50, which is a good grade judging by my standards.
There is also a movie after the book, Coco before Chanel. It presents only the first half of the book. The movie is beautiful, I have seen it a long time ago so I cannot give you an accurate review of it. Back then I gave it a 10/10, so feel free to add it to your watch list.
I hope you found this review useful. Let us know your thoughts about the Coco Chanel book! Let’s have a debate. 🙂
Thank you everybody for reading my Coco Chanel book review! I will see you on Wednesday at 8 P.M. with this week’s Beauty article.