Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History Info

Fan Club Reviews of best titles on art fashion, artists, history, photography. Check out our top reviews and see what others have to say about the best art and photography books of the year. Check out Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History Community Reviews - Find out where to download Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History available in multiple formats:Paperback,Hardcover,Kindle,Audible Audiobook,Audio CD Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History Author:Rhonda K. Garelick Formats:Paperback,Hardcover,Kindle,Audible Audiobook,Audio CD Publication Date:Jul 14, 2015


NATIONAL BESTSELLER
Certain lives are at once so
exceptional, and yet so in step with their historical moments, that they
illuminate cultural forces far beyond the scope of a single person.
Such is the case with Coco Chanel, whose life offers one of the most
fascinating tales of the twentieth century—throwing into dramatic
relief an era of war, fashion, ardent nationalism, and earth-shaking
change—here brilliantly treated, for the first time, with
wide-ranging and incisive historical scrutiny.
 
Coco
Chanel transformed forever the way women dressed. Her influence remains
so pervasive that to this day we can see her afterimage a dozen times
while just walking down a single street: in all the little black
dresses, flat shoes, costume jewelry, cardigan sweaters, and
tortoiseshell eyeglasses on women of every age and background. A bottle
of Chanel No. 5 perfume is sold every three seconds. Arguably, no other
individual has had a deeper impact on the visual aesthetic of the world.
But how did a poor orphan become a global icon of both luxury and
everyday style? How did she develop such vast, undying influence? And
what does our ongoing love of all things Chanel tell us about ourselves?
These are the mysteries that Rhonda K. Garelick unravels in
Mademoiselle.
 
Raised in rural poverty and orphaned
early, the young Chanel supported herself as best she could. Then, as
an uneducated nineteen-year-old café singer, she attracted the
attention of a wealthy and powerful admirer and parlayed his support
into her own hat design business. For the rest of Chanel’s life,
the professional, personal, and political were interwoven; her lovers
included diplomat Boy Capel; composer Igor Stravinsky; Romanov heir
Grand Duke Dmitri; Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster; poet Pierre
Reverdy; a Nazi officer; and several women as well. For all that, she
was profoundly alone, her romantic life relentlessly plagued by
abandonment and tragedy.
 
Chanel’s ambitions and
accomplishments were unparalleled. Her hat shop evolved into a clothing
empire. She became a noted theatrical and film costume designer,
collaborating with the likes of Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, and Luchino
Visconti. The genius of Coco Chanel, Garelick shows, lay in the way she
absorbed the zeitgeist, reflecting it back to the world in her designs
and in what Garelick calls “wearable personality”—the
irresistible and contagious style infused with both world history and
Chanel’s nearly unbelievable life saga. By age forty, Chanel had
become a multimillionaire and a household name, and her Chanel
Corporation is still the highest-earning privately owned luxury goods
manufacturer in the world.
 
In Mademoiselle,
Garelick delivers the most probing, well-researched, and insightful
biography to date on this seemingly familiar but endlessly surprising
figure—a work that is truly both a heady intellectual study and a
literary page-turner.
Praise for Mademoiselle

 
“A detailed, wry and nuanced portrait of a
complicated woman that leaves the reader in a state of utterly
satisfying confusion—blissfully mesmerized and confounded by the
reality of the human spirit.”The Washington
Post

 
“Writing an exhaustive biography of
Chanel is a challenge comparable to racing a four-horse chariot. . . .
This makes the assured confidence with which Garelick tells her story
all the more remarkable.”The New York Review of
Books

“Broadly focused and beautifully
written.”The Wall Street Journal

Average Ratings and Reviews
review-bg

4.03

953 Ratings

5

4

3

2

1


Ratings and Reviews From Market


client-img 4.2
66
30
16
6
5
client-img 3.85
334
307
98
2
0

Reviews for Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History:

2

August 11, 2015

Biased Biography with Ulterior Motives
Though extensive and seemingly exhaustive in its details and depth of research, almost half of the 600 pages is devoted to hammering it into our heads the fact that Coco Chanel was a fascist Nazi sympathizer. Garelick attempts to subtly separate Coco Chanel the fascist woman from Chanel the powerhouse fashion brand of today, so as not to offend the current owners nor damage their profits in any way.
The author easily glosses over the fact that Coco had to gain the favor of the Nazis in order to rescue her nephew (or most likely son), who was dying in Nazi captivity and whom she loved dearly. The author quickly glosses over the fact that the Wertheimers royally screwed Coco by setting up their own, separate Chanel corporation in America during the war, and profited enormously from perfume sales, all the while sharing none of it with the woman herself.
The first thing Garelick does is insinuate that the interlocking C logo is a fascist symbol much like the swastika, and how Coco's own fascist tendencies enabled her fashion brand to dominate. There are a good twenty pages or so where the author lectures the reader on fascism and the evils of the German Nazis. It is repetitive, completely unnecessary, and only serves Garelick's purpose in imprinting a very negative image of Coco in the readers' minds. Many of those who were wealthy or had much to lose during the war were Nazi sympathizers, including the British royal family and almost everyone in the upper echelons of European society, but the particularly harsh focus of the author on Coco, as well as Garelick's own personal insinuations (which she weaves in many paragraphs stealthily) on Coco’s thoughts or motives, are just plain annoying.
The real motive of this biography is to shame, denigrate, and disparage Coco Chanel the woman, while simultaneously praising and building respect for the house of Chanel under the Wertheimer ownership. I do not recommend this book, and feel that it portrays a very strong woman who overcame incredible tragedies and obstacles in a purposefully negative light. It is not an unbiased, objective biography.
3

November 30, 2014

Tediously Thorough
Extremely well researched and minutely detailed in seemingly every aspect of Chanel's life. I began to find it tedious by only one-third finished, even though I have read many lengthier biographies. My loss of interest is not as much the fault of the author's as my previous ignorance of Chanel's extreme Nazi leanings that completely disenchanted me from learning more about her and will forever keep me from purchasing or using her empire's products.
4

Nov 01, 2014

My ARC courtesy of Random House/NetGalley; much thanks!

Biography of a fascinating and complex, though not very nice, woman. Focuses on the woman, rather than the fashion (which comes up; it's just not the focus).

For a further review: http://susannag.booklikes.com/post/11... .
2

September 30, 2014

Coco Chanel in a Historical Context ...
*The basis for review purposes here is an "Advanced Copy" from the publisher. So, know that my review is based on a curled-up door-stop sans illustrations (except for an occasional stock-photograph). Since its dissemination, this text may have been intensely edited. Therefore, my experience may differ from yours.*

Foremost, I have this nagging sense that if the author closely revised the text with an eye on concision, it could be distilled to about two-hundred pithy pages. Instead, this monstrosity is over five-hundred massive, rambling pages (including an extensive bibliography and an onslaught of notes). Additionally, the tone is somewhat perplexing. There are moments that could be compelling, sumptuous, or intriguing ... but these seem to fall victim to overuse of idiomatic phrases and cliches. For me, this bordered on unbearable. Over the past month and half, I have returned to this text at least ten times. Each time, I considered trudging through fifty more pages to be a minor victory.

The text does succeed in placing Coco Chanel in a historical context, no doubt. (And, for better or worse). I just it were wrought with a lighter hand.
2

June 6, 2016

Not what I was looking for
The writer wrote this book as more of an expose than an autobiography. She also spent as much space (more if you add them together) on her lovers as she wrote about Chanel. Sometimes I wondered who's life I was reading about. The book ended at around 64% and started epilogue, biography etc.
4

Oct 14, 2014

This detailed and meticulously researched biography of Coco Chanel is certainly both readable and endlessly fascinating, with a wealth of information about Chanel herself and the times she lived in. The author has left no stone unturned to find out everything she could, but the result is a book that is in fact overly long and occasionally repetitive, with perhaps just too much detail. This is a shame, as the subject matter is so intriguing. The book is also marred by the use of (usually This detailed and meticulously researched biography of Coco Chanel is certainly both readable and endlessly fascinating, with a wealth of information about Chanel herself and the times she lived in. The author has left no stone unturned to find out everything she could, but the result is a book that is in fact overly long and occasionally repetitive, with perhaps just too much detail. This is a shame, as the subject matter is so intriguing. The book is also marred by the use of (usually anachronistic) American slang, which is out of place in a serious biography. (The text is peppered by expressions such as “women would spring for her perfume”, Cocteau could now live closer to his buddies”, many people seem to have “savvy”, Chanel “dates” Grand Duke Dmitri, and it seems unlikely that Chanel ever said, even in the original French, “a country that understands only comfort is screwed”.) The author also seems to be confused about the British Royal Family. “…the pro-Nazi branch of the British royal family, many of whose members participated in other Anglo-German strategies to end the war on German terms”. We all know about the Duke of Windsor having pro-Hitler sympathies, but he hardly constitutes a “branch”. Nor was Chanel’s former lover the Duke of Westminster a member of the royal family. And did Churchill really personally pay for the Paris flat of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, against British law? Such inaccuracies detract from an otherwise excellent biography, and for me at least made it less enjoyable than it could have been. A bit of healthy editing wouldn’t have come amiss either.
Nevertheless, overall this is a full and compelling biography and one which kept me reading to the end.
...more
3

August 10, 2017

Definitely, one of the most comprehensive biographies of Coco ...
Definitely, one of the most comprehensive biographies of Coco Chanel since (as you will quickly learn reading this book) Coco lied a lot about her childhood and upbringing. This biography was written after both German and French records were released to the public. However, Garelick’s failed to explore beyond the limitation that her subject imposed on her. Coco is such an elusive subject due to her multitude of lies and exaggerations and Garelick was barely able to successfully capture the life of Coco let alone expand into her surrounding environment.
3

November 19, 2015

Coco Chanel
Coco Chanel was a very interesting character but I felt the book was way too long and I would skim parts just to get through. I did learn a lot about her fashion career and perfume industry as well as her role in WWII, but I lost interest when she reinvented her life to fit the audience. I think it was worth reading but I would not reread it.
1

August 2, 2016

tedious history book
a very long book, 608 pages. Not written as a novel, but written as a history book. A detailed historical lineage is written about each person that Chanel associated with. It is a very tedious book. I am reading this for book club. I can't imagine why we selected this book.
3

Jan 22, 2017

Received Chanel No. 5 as a gift and curious to the hype about it, googled it, which took me to the woman behind, her rags to riches story and the controversy regarding her being a Nazi spy. I was captivated. She had my attention and I had to read a biography of this legendary woman.
This is the 1st book I picked up and I think it captures all what is to know about Coco Chanel. It is a very detailed and comprehensive book, extremely well researched. I am very impressed by the efforts the author Received Chanel No. 5 as a gift and curious to the hype about it, googled it, which took me to the woman behind, her rags to riches story and the controversy regarding her being a Nazi spy. I was captivated. She had my attention and I had to read a biography of this legendary woman.
This is the 1st book I picked up and I think it captures all what is to know about Coco Chanel. It is a very detailed and comprehensive book, extremely well researched. I am very impressed by the efforts the author has put in to compile this book as it contains information not only about Chanel but details of all the people she had in her life.
For me, the problem while reading this book was it was too lengthy and kind of dragged in between, repetitive at times. The flow of the book was interrupted by too much detail of the life and political ideologies of her lovers and general political scenario of her time that on few occasions it gave a history text book feel and I felt that where is Chanel in all this. I kept loosing interest in between which made it difficult to finish.
Nevertheless, this is a good book and I got to know a great deal about this fascinating, innovative lady who was a fashion game changer and gave a sense of freedom to women by her comfortable, realistic clothing. ...more
3

December 29, 2016

Change of Title to " The Affairs of Coco Chanel"
.I would give this book a 3 star rating. I expected Coco to be a subject for a interesting biography, I was let down by finding that she had succumbed to another love affair, always to a married man. I think this book should be entitled " The Affairs of Coco Chanel". Then the readers would know what to expect.
4

Jul 22, 2014

Thank you to NetGalley.

Although Chanel has been the subject of several books and films in the last few years, this biography promises to top them all. For the most part, it delivers. Garelick manages to position Coco Chanel as the central icon of the 20th century, connecting the dots between everything from women's suffrage (down with corsets!) to the seductive allure of Nazism (the sexy uniforms did for men what Chanel couture did for women!) and even the Kennedy assassination (Jackie's Thank you to NetGalley.

Although Chanel has been the subject of several books and films in the last few years, this biography promises to top them all. For the most part, it delivers. Garelick manages to position Coco Chanel as the central icon of the 20th century, connecting the dots between everything from women's suffrage (down with corsets!) to the seductive allure of Nazism (the sexy uniforms did for men what Chanel couture did for women!) and even the Kennedy assassination (Jackie's bloodstained raspberry wool boucle suit!).

Garelick shows a deep understanding of European and American culture, language, psychology and history as she draws these connections in a way that had me fascinated. Most Chanel biographies touch on Coco's life, loves, successes and subterfuges. The couple I've read were by people who knew her and were willing to keep her secrets. "Sleeping with the Enemy" by Hal Vaughan confines itself to exploring Chanel's activities in Paris during the Occupation and establishes that she was living in the Nazi-occupied Ritz and having a relationship with Hans von Dincklage. But "Mademoiselle" puts all this together, digging deeper than any of these other sources. Garelick deals rationally and evenly with the less savory aspects of Mademoiselle's life, including her documented anti-Semitism and her possible drug addiction. It's fascinating.

One outstanding piece of reportage is Garelick's description of visiting Chanel's salon and trying on her clothes. Whatever magic Chanel possessed, it is probably still in those clothes, and the author senses it. It is a delicious moment in the book.

My favorite passage is the account of Chanel's last act of "kindness" at the death of her best friend, or possibly "frenemy," Misia Sert. Chanel asked to be left alone with the body. When the doors were opened, hours later, Misia looked gorgeous, and about 20 years younger. "Chanel had...performed a bit of makeshift plastic surgery, expertly pulling back Misia's jowls and loose facial skin, which she secured--like so much excess fabric--behind her ears with dressmaker's pins--a designerly gesture of mingled love and cruelty perfectly summing up the thirty-year friendship of two eternal cocottes."

The above--plus the whole chapter devoted to analyzing the appeal of the Nazis--truly took my breath away.

For me, this book was a delight, mingling cultural and women's history with couture, my favorite subjects. But I think anyone interested in 20th century history and culture would enjoy this biography.
...more
4

Jul 02, 2014

Garelick possesses a straightforward effective writing style, every word serves a detailed purpose, part of the draw to this extensive biography.

An extremely comprehensive overview of the enigmatic Coco Chanel. I have read several books pertaining to Chanel, all revealing more or less similar information. Nothing was a revelation in this book, although fascinatingly entertaining nonetheless. No matter how much I read of this intriguing creature I am always captivated by her many flaws and Garelick possesses a straightforward effective writing style, every word serves a detailed purpose, part of the draw to this extensive biography.

An extremely comprehensive overview of the enigmatic Coco Chanel. I have read several books pertaining to Chanel, all revealing more or less similar information. Nothing was a revelation in this book, although fascinatingly entertaining nonetheless. No matter how much I read of this intriguing creature I am always captivated by her many flaws and artistic gift. There will never be another Chanel, not even close, I find this both a blessing and a curse.

Throughout the book there were numerous quotes, some from Chanel, others from various people close or familiar to the icon. I'm on the fence with their placement, at times they were distracting, other times their placement was perfect. Perhaps a dedicated area or strategic placement would have served this reader better, their intended impact would not have been lost due to awkward insertion.

Garelick was thorough, not only in regards to Chanel but her intimates as well. I appreciated the fine details of others, in fact it provides a deeper understanding of Chanel but at times it was a bit heavy, especially since my focus was all about Chanel. I understand Garelick's purpose in leaving no stone unturned, however, at moments less would have been best.

I enjoyed the images included, they were numerous, again it provided a more personal feel for Chanel along with the reading journey, plus it was exciting to see images of the past. I wish I was reading the paper copy as opposed to digital copy to relish the images in greater detail.

Garelick provides one of the better biographies I have perused, her details indicate her passion for capturing her subjects intimately, leaving no detail, rumor, or fact undocumented to her audience. Her nonsense writing style will keep your attention. Fans of fashion or of Chanel will savor this panoramic biography of an unforgettable fashion legend. ...more
3

Jul 17, 2014

Provided by Netgalley.

This book had so much information, perhaps too much. I learned so much about Coco, especially about her early life. I found this book to be a bit repetitive; after reading the first chapter, we know that Coco lied to everyone about her upbringing and dislike people writing things about you. I don't need to hear it every other paragraph. Overall, I enjoyed the information and the integration of quotes from the Mademoiselle herself. I think the book was too long. 500+ pages Provided by Netgalley.

This book had so much information, perhaps too much. I learned so much about Coco, especially about her early life. I found this book to be a bit repetitive; after reading the first chapter, we know that Coco lied to everyone about her upbringing and dislike people writing things about you. I don't need to hear it every other paragraph. Overall, I enjoyed the information and the integration of quotes from the Mademoiselle herself. I think the book was too long. 500+ pages is a bit much, especially considering that most the info is rehashed unnecessarily multiple times and drawn out. I think the book would have worked better if the info was more concise and less repeated. I liked that this book attempted to demystify Chanel a bit; it's easy to lose the women behind the idol. I skimmed a bit (the details about Coco learning how to sew/detail/hat make where way too draw out). I liked the wrap up at the end where it pulls Chanel into the future and generally appreciated the author's admiration for Coco Chanel. ...more
4

December 28, 2016

Surprised
Well-written chronical of her affiliation with the Axis. I was very surprised to learn this about her. I have only known the persona that we are all told about... her early years, her love for Boy, her design ups and downs, but not this side. It is a bit sad, really, but a good story of the real Coco.
2

November 9, 2017

Disappointed
Biographies are my favorite, but this book is as interesting as a piece of unbuttered toast.
2

June 16, 2017

Too much detail
Boring details of Chanel's life events but not enough narrative to make her a real person. Too many boring facts about too many people in her life.
3

October 27, 2015

Does Coco Channel deserve our admiration?
Some of the parts are very interesting. This book shows that she was not one of the nicest people that ever lived. Would I recommend it? Maybe or not. I have mixed feelings about her; and these thoughts are influencing me.
3

Apr 15, 2019

Vacationing in France for a few weeks, I was looking for something of that country and biographical to read. This book filled the bill on both counts. Even though I have no background and almost no interest in the fashion industry, I'm glad I read it. On the positive side, it was amazing to me that this seamstress-turned-designer became so prominent and successful, particularly during the first 50 years of the 20th century, and that she had such an impact on the styles of that era. (In that Vacationing in France for a few weeks, I was looking for something of that country and biographical to read. This book filled the bill on both counts. Even though I have no background and almost no interest in the fashion industry, I'm glad I read it. On the positive side, it was amazing to me that this seamstress-turned-designer became so prominent and successful, particularly during the first 50 years of the 20th century, and that she had such an impact on the styles of that era. (In that sense it truly is a good rags-to-riches story.) By almost any measure, Coco's was a fascinating life. On the negative side, the book was too long for my taste -- I'm a reader who often subscribes to the theory that inside every "big book" there is a "little book" trying to get out -- but it was easy to skim those parts of it where the author is surmising, speculating or otherwise falling in love with her own voice. Also, the subject was not someone I found myself rooting for -- she wasn't an exemplary individual -- and the author, I thought, bent over backwards trying to put the best face on things. (In my experience, authors who write biographies tend to "fall in love" with their subjects, which was the case here.). However, overall it was a worthwhile read and falls in the general category of a GOOD. BIOGRAPHY. ...more
5

Feb 17, 2015

Mademoiselle coco chanel and the pulse of history by Ronda K Garelick

THE BLURB
Certain lives are at once so exceptional, and yet so in step with their historical moments, that they illuminate cultural forces far beyond the scope of a single person. Such is the case with Coco Chanel, whose life offers one of the most fascinating tales of the twentieth century—throwing into dramatic relief an era of war, fashion, ardent nationalism, and earth-shaking change—here brilliantly treated, for the first Mademoiselle coco chanel and the pulse of history by Ronda K Garelick

THE BLURB
Certain lives are at once so exceptional, and yet so in step with their historical moments, that they illuminate cultural forces far beyond the scope of a single person. Such is the case with Coco Chanel, whose life offers one of the most fascinating tales of the twentieth century—throwing into dramatic relief an era of war, fashion, ardent nationalism, and earth-shaking change—here brilliantly treated, for the first time, with wide-ranging and incisive historical scrutiny.

Coco Chanel transformed forever the way women dressed. Her influence remains so pervasive that to this day we can see her afterimage a dozen times while just walking down a single street: in all the little black dresses, flat shoes, costume jewelry, cardigan sweaters, and tortoiseshell eyeglasses on women of every age and background. A bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume is sold every three seconds. Arguably, no other individual has had a deeper impact on the visual aesthetic of the world. But how did a poor orphan become a global icon of both luxury and everyday style? How did she develop such vast, undying influence? And what does our ongoing love of all things Chanel tell us about ourselves? These are the mysteries that Rhonda K. Garelick unravels in Mademoiselle.

Raised in rural poverty and orphaned early, the young Chanel supported herself as best she could. Then, as an uneducated nineteen-year-old café singer, she attracted the attention of a wealthy and powerful admirer and parlayed his support into her own hat design business. For the rest of Chanel’s life, the professional, personal, and political were interwoven; her lovers included diplomat Boy Capel; composer Igor Stravinsky; Romanov heir Grand Duke Dmitri; Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster; poet Pierre Reverdy; a Nazi officer; and several women as well. For all that, she was profoundly alone, her romantic life relentlessly plagued by abandonment and tragedy.

Chanel’s ambitions and accomplishments were unparalleled. Her hat shop evolved into a clothing empire. She became a noted theatrical and film costume designer, collaborating with the likes of Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, and Luchino Visconti. The genius of Coco Chanel, Garelick shows, lay in the way she absorbed the zeitgeist, reflecting it back to the world in her designs and in what Garelick calls “wearable personality”—the irresistible and contagious style infused with both world history and Chanel’s nearly unbelievable life saga. By age forty, Chanel had become a multimillionaire and a household name, and her Chanel Corporation is still the highest-earning privately owned luxury goods manufacturer in the world.

WHAT I SAY
I just loved this book i had it of net gallery to review but paul brought me a hard back copy for christmas as i loved it so much i read it twice now
It tell you the life one of the most successful world conquerors
Gabrielle Coco Chanel is a corporate brand she was or i should say is a symbol of feminism her iconic outfits she still is now one of the most successful fashion bands of all time
She conjured up the little black dress , bobbed hair ,trousers for women , her contemporary chic
No5 was the first synthetically create perfume and still is now one of the world best selling perfume now every 3 seconds a bottle is sold
The handbag are still a best seller too
Rohonda done a wonderful job of writing this book
The research that gone into this most of took hours it so in depth i still feel coco Chanel remains something of a enigma
The book just fascinating account of her life i did feel she was part of her sister death what did you think?
She seem to like married men a lot too she mixed with some very high class people she loved her riding her horses
You feel as though you know her , her glamorous world of paris and le beau monde
I loved hear about her early life her sewing for her aunt
The book tell you all of her life from being born in the poor house to being rich
I enjoy hearing about the linked C in her logo a lot of people do know that her instals
We hear about the tweets to number 5
The book just brings Gabrielle
CoCo Chanel alive to me her journey was fascinating i did not know she was a singer and dancer she did sew as a bit of spare cash
It just so excellently documented i enjoyed hearing about all her achievements she will also ways be a legend to me
I still not sure of all chanel amazing life she seem to tell a lot of lies and half truths she like to fantasy about he life i still not sure why
I did feel so part were a lit bit long winded and a bit over description but i was just hooked on the story i just wanted to find out about her she just fascinated me and still does

The mystery around her still there now but i loved hearing about her rags to riches tale
Coco chanel was a very strong women she made her way up she battled all kinds of setbacks , problems and disappointed
But eventually she became a household name she a luxury products that we all loved
A must read book for any fan i just love it
It a very interesting book her story very sad but she was also very inspirational the book extraordinary i loved it
She had just such a fascinating life she was a amazing women i loved the start of her journey her hats sounded so good was that the start of chanel you got to read to find out just a great book to read and keep
5 dolls


...more
1

Sep 20, 2017

I did not care for the style of this book. If it was meant to be a biography, there was a lot of conjecture to Chanel's life! A streamlined "story" more along the lines of historical fiction would have been much more interesting. Also, there was too much background/focus on other people and political actions. I would have preferred a better focused, and thus more interesting book.
5

Feb 26, 2019

Sweeping, definitive, meticulous; Garelik's portrait of the fascinating Chanel is astute and revealing. The forces at play in twentieth-century Europe are not shied away from, illustrating how the rise of this fashion icon owes much to time in which it took place. This book condemns Chanel when it should, praises her if it must, but maintains a refreshingly objective perspective. The elegance of Chanel is palpable within these pages. The writing is stylish and utterly engaging. For fans of Sweeping, definitive, meticulous; Garelik's portrait of the fascinating Chanel is astute and revealing. The forces at play in twentieth-century Europe are not shied away from, illustrating how the rise of this fashion icon owes much to time in which it took place. This book condemns Chanel when it should, praises her if it must, but maintains a refreshingly objective perspective. The elegance of Chanel is palpable within these pages. The writing is stylish and utterly engaging. For fans of fashion, history, and French culture, this book is a must-read. ...more
5

Sep 04, 2014

Mademoiselle by Rhonda K. Garelick was the most riveting biography I have read in a long while. Chanel's stranger-than-fiction life, her unique vision, and her many lovers alone make for fascinating reading. But Garelick's biography probes deeper and delivers a complex portrait of the 20th century's most distinctive fashion voice.


Chanel was driven by a need for legitimacy and power, willing to do what it takes. She was a dictatorial and unsympathetic boss. She romanced friend's husbands, her Mademoiselle by Rhonda K. Garelick was the most riveting biography I have read in a long while. Chanel's stranger-than-fiction life, her unique vision, and her many lovers alone make for fascinating reading. But Garelick's biography probes deeper and delivers a complex portrait of the 20th century's most distinctive fashion voice.


Chanel was driven by a need for legitimacy and power, willing to do what it takes. She was a dictatorial and unsympathetic boss. She romanced friend's husbands, her friendships were fraught with competitive tension, and she could change alliances as it suited her. Yet men and women were charmed by her, attracted to her like moths to a flame.

Chanel's greatest creation was Chanel. She shed her past and rewrote it. She bought off and distanced her relatives in an effort to reinvent herself. Born to in the lowest class, she found work as a chorus line coquette. She became attached to in a playboy's harem where she learned the ways of the upper crust and met her true love, Boy Capel. Boy support Chanel's nascent millinery business which grew into her Chanel brand clothing.

Chanel knew the great avant garde lights of the 20s and 30s, artists of all disciplines. She lost her true love and a fiancée, had many lovers, but never achieved the one thing she desperately wanted: marriage--preferably to a titled man.

I had not realized that every 20th c. fashion trend started with Chanel: the boyish sleek dresses, the bobbed hair, the acceptance of costume jewelry and fake furs, the use of jersey for day wear (previously used for men's underwear only!), the bathing suit, the cardigan sweater, the sailor blouse, the pleated skirt, the little black dress, beach wear loose pajama pants, and even her legendary Chanel No. 5, a complex perfume that was not overtly floral.

Chanel believed clothing should enhance the natural body, have impeccable fit that allowed full range of motion, with an elegance of style.

Because larger, older women did not look well in Chanel clothes, the cult of youth was also her doing. Chanel herself proudly kept her figure and muscle tone.

Chanel was anti-Semite and supported the philosophy of the rising Nazi regime. Henry Ford, Charles Lindberg, The Duke of Windsor Edward and Wallace Simpson were all sympathetic to fascism. Chanel closed her house in 1939. During the Nazi occupation of France she became involved with an SS officer and was part of a clandestine mission to broker peace with Churchill, offering peace for capitulating to Germany's demands. Was her motivation political or was she doing what it took to survive? Her nephew, perhaps son, was imprisoned and she was desperate to have him released.

When Christian Dior's "New Look" returned to corsets and padding Chanel reopened her house to battle what she saw as a return to the overwrought styles she had reacted against in her early career. Jackie Kennedy wore a Chanel suit when President Kennedy was assassinated.

Garelick's style and presentation of the material is accessible and a pleasure to read. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good biography, is interested in fashion or history, or is fascinated by complex characters. I can not say I like Chanel as a human being, but I enjoyed every page of this biography.

I appreciate NetGalley and Random House allowing me access to the prepublication e-book. ...more
5

Nov 19, 2014

Jacqueline Kennedy was wearing a Chanel suit on the day her husband was assassinated. Marilyn Monroe famously adopted Chanel No. 5 as her scent. Even earlier, Hollywood clamored for Chanel to design its productions. Producer Samuel Goldwyn tried several times (unsuccessfully) to secure her cooperation for a biopic. Finally, Katharine Hepburn brought her to the stage in the musical “Coco.”

To say that Coco Chanel (1883-1971) brought fashion into the 20th century is no exaggeration. She had the Jacqueline Kennedy was wearing a Chanel suit on the day her husband was assassinated. Marilyn Monroe famously adopted Chanel No. 5 as her scent. Even earlier, Hollywood clamored for Chanel to design its productions. Producer Samuel Goldwyn tried several times (unsuccessfully) to secure her cooperation for a biopic. Finally, Katharine Hepburn brought her to the stage in the musical “Coco.”

To say that Coco Chanel (1883-1971) brought fashion into the 20th century is no exaggeration. She had the figure of a gamine and turned the 19th-century world of bustles and corsets into a streamlined outfit that millions of women wore with pleasure and ease. Chanel invented the little black dress and its infinite variations. She became iconic because she designed clothes — and so much else — for herself, and in the process made women wish to be similarly equipped.

One reason for Chanel’s success ran counter to what most of her rivals in the fashion industry considered axiomatic: A designer’s clothes ought to be unique and zealously protected from knockoff artists. Chanel alone realized that she would command the market and become wealthy by doing the opposite, allowing all kinds of manufacturers to replicate her style. The closer these imitators came to genuine Chanel, the more her own brand prospered, making her a very wealthy woman.

Rhonda Garelick takes her place in a long line of biographers who have told the Chanel story. What is so satisfying about Garelick’s book is that she acknowledges her predecessors and works their discoveries into her own narrative, demonstrating how over time biographies accrue in value. At the same time, she provides fresh interviews with Chanel’s friends and co-workers. Especially noteworthy is Garelick’s lucid explanation of Chanel’s involvement with the Nazis in German-occupied Paris. Chanel was no dupe. As someone attracted to power and uniforms and to claims of superiority, she welcomed Nazi hegemony. And her hold — not only on French fashion, but on the modern imagination — was so profound, she never apologized and never suffered the kind of collaborationist opprobrium that dogged other artists such as filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl.

Even though Chanel — born in rural poverty and the product of a broken family — designed clothes for a democratic, mass-produced world, she was at heart a royalist, Garelick reveals. Chanel treated her own employees like serfs and committed them to a totalitarian regime that conceded nothing to the rights of workers. And yet, as Garelick also shows, Chanel’s influence on the democratic understanding of style — that it can be the possession of millions — remains an enduring part of her legacy. ...more
2

Aug 27, 2014

When I saw this biography on netgalley, I was intrigued because I know the name, but not the person behind the name. Unfortunately, I didn't like Mademoiselle as much as I thought.

It was very interesting to how she got into fashion, and what her early life was like. It did get very repetitive at times- it was tiring to read that Chanel wanted to re-write her own life over and over and over. Mademoiselle was very detailed and had a lot of information- too much information for me. There were times When I saw this biography on netgalley, I was intrigued because I know the name, but not the person behind the name. Unfortunately, I didn't like Mademoiselle as much as I thought.

It was very interesting to how she got into fashion, and what her early life was like. It did get very repetitive at times- it was tiring to read that Chanel wanted to re-write her own life over and over and over. Mademoiselle was very detailed and had a lot of information- too much information for me. There were times when I skimmed the book (mostly at the end of the book), just because I couldn't take in any more details. For me, there was so much detail that nothing really stood out to me. Sometimes it felt like names and events were thrown at me. And it felt much more like we got all of the different people and events that had an influence on Chanel personally and professionally, and not a lot about Chanel. I know that they all had a big impact on her life, but I wish I walked away with a better sense of Chanel.

I did like that there were photos and quotes from Chanel herself scattered throughout the book. It made Chanel much more real to see her own words throughout the book. It also seemed like a very objective look at Chanel's life, but as a result, it seemed a little dry, and I would have liked the little something extra that seemed missing. I do think anyone who's curious about Chanel and anyone who's into fashion will like this book.

Let's Rate It: Mademoiselle got a little too detailed and was a little too repetitive at times, which made it okay for me. It's still an interesting look at the person who started this huge and iconic company. Mademoiselle gets 2 stars.

*I received Mademoiselle from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review ...more

Best Books from your Favorite Authors & Publishers

compare-icon compare-icon
Thousands of books

Take your time and choose the perfect book.

review-icon review-icon
Read Reviews

Read ratings and reviews to make sure you are on the right path.

vendor-icon vendor-icon
Multiple Stores

Check price from multiple stores for a better shopping experience.

gift-icon

Enjoy Result