Book Review: The Real Coco Chanel

This book, debut biography from Rose Sgueglia, is, as you might imagine, all about Coco Chanel. Having been someone who has heard her name for years, and have owned several Chanel items myself, including the iconic No.5 perfume, I knew very little about the woman behind the brand, and how it all started. I don’t think I can think of many millennial females that can’t recite one of her famous quotes; classy and fabulous, anyone?

But back when she founded the fashion powerhouse as it now is, it was a time when women couldn’t vote, and it pre-dated two World Wars. So what made her stand out at such a time, when it was very much a man’s world?

I was really intrigued to learn more about Coco Chanel, or Gabrielle, as she was born. How did she get into fashion, and what really stood her out from the crowd? The book covers her entire life in great detail, using accounts from history records, as well as accounts from people who knew Coco herself, as well as using interviews with museum curators, who have studied the time and events of the time in detail.

This biography explores in depth her life from her poor upbringing and the fact that she was abandoned by her father after her mother’s death, and raised in an orphanage by nuns. Something that I knew nothing about, and something that really helps you to understand Coco and some of the decision she makes later in her life. She wasn’t just all about luxury in her life, and then suddenly creating ‘the little black dress’ and fancy perfume. The book addresses the opening of her first hat shop, her passions, lovers, and secrets. Not only that but the book looks at some of the myths that we think we know about Coco, alongside the facts, to see what the truth actually was.

The book is easy to read, but written really well and in such an informative manner. You just want to keep reading, as the life was full of interest, and events in her life were fascinating. If it is possible to be sat on the edge of your seat when reading, so to speak, then I certainly was! It is also really apparent of the author’s love of the subject too, which was refreshing and added to the passion of the whole book.

I think overall, I was just amazed at the life of Coco Chanel, and although she is associated with luxury and class, there were many element of her life that were simply not that way. It really is a fascinating read, and has helped me to understand the woman that created the iconic brand, and what it took in her life to get her to where she was. It also helped me to realise that we are all human, and none of us, no matter how famous, rich, or admired we are, we all have flaws.

Although I would say that really, in order to enjoy the book and care about the contents, it does help to have an interest in Chanel, fashion, and Coco herself. Obviously, I had heard of her before, but this was thorough, and explains a lot about what she could have been doing behind some of her decisions, especially in the fashion world and the Chanel empire. If you have an interest in this, then this is definitely a book for you, as I learnt a lot.

The details:

ISBN: 9781526761019
Published: 25th June 2020

Available from Pen and Sword for £15.99.

Do you think you will give this book a go? It would be great to hear what you think.

*the book was gifted in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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