BOOK REVIEW: The Glamorous Lies Of Coco Chanel

We tend to give the people we admire most the benefit of the doubt. But what good is that practice when the person we’re busy admiring is the one who created that doubt to begin with?

That’s the question confronted in Justine Picardie‘s new biography Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life. As it turns out, Madamoiselle lied. A lot. She told countless versions of her life story to different friends and family members, purposefully obscuring (or conveniently forgetting) the truth as it suited her needs. From her actual age (Was she in her teens or her 30s when she met Boy Capel?) to her upbringing (Did her father deposit her at a convent, or was she orphaned and raised by her aunts?), the designer who turned simplicity into luxury had a few things she wanted to hide.

Picardie’s zeal in uncovering the truth — and discovering the hidden meaning behind the symbols that popped up in Chanel’s work and personal lives — makes for a read that is always interesting, if at times a little dense. Still, the diference between Chanel’s legacy and the life she actually lived is sure to get anyone who loves the brand or its founder through even the most detail-laden of Picardie’s paragraphs. Then again, the devil (and the whole story) is in the details.

If we’ve piqued your interest, well, good! Harper Collins, which publishes Picardie’s book, has given us eight copies to give away to one very lucky Styleite reader. Wanna nerd out and be able to tell your friends about how Chanel almost became the Duchess of Westminster? Ever wonder why camelias were her favorite flowers? Then Like us on Facebook for your chance to win!

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