Book Review: The Allure of Chanel

Coco Chanel is arguably the most quoted woman in fashion. Her charming, witty prose style is undoubtedly enjoyable, but Chanel herself is more difficult to read. In this book, all of her famous and infamous lines are pierced together to form one text, overflowing with eccentricity. The book’s title is ironic – Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s translated diary hardly makes her seem alluring in the most obvious sense of the word. However, it is interesting to see inside the mind of one of fashion’s most important figures as she recounts her relationships with friends and lovers, her finicky obsession with needing everything in her life to be too simple, and her disdain for the women in her social circles. Chanel describes in detail the effect she believes she had on fashion – she “made it honest” and was one of the first to make clothing for busy women – and decrees fashion shows and publicity stunts absurd and extravagant. The Allure of Chanel is insightful and poetic, but at the same time, I can’t help wondering how much of Chanel’s self-portrat is drawn with the intention to flatter some features, while leaving others out of the frame comletely.

by Paul Morand (Pushkin Press)
Reviewed by Stephanie Fereiro (originally published in WORN Fashion Journal Issue 11)

photography by Jessica da Silva

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