July 31st, 2014Par Jean Lebrun
When it comes to the history of fashion, there are some people we can know inside and out - for example, Jean Patou, who died prematurely, had his archives carefully preserved, classified and communicated: Emmanuelle Polle was able to research these archives in 2013 and summarize the essentials in a single book.
Legend has it that during their lifetime, Patou and Chanel could not stand to be in the same room together. In terms of history, legend is once again correct. Chanel is of a completely different kind than Patou. She left behind many footsteps but very few written sources, as she herself would become lost in the maze of her constantly reinvented memories: we are perhaps the ninety-fifth to publish a book about her, and with each new work that emerges, the picture becomes even fuzzier, and the essence of who she is escapes us even more.
This project, entitled "Notre Chanel" (Our Chanel), was written in attempt to surpass this difficulty by recounting what Gabrielle meant to two men, Bernard and Jean, who investigated her life nearly a quarter century ago. One of these men has since passed. The other has reopened the case, but has endeavored not to produce yet another biography. Rather, this work is like a stained glass window – a lateral stained glass window – in which Bernard and Jean contemplate in the corner reserved for the faces of donors, yet are unable to reach the face that brought them together through a task never completed. It is a window in which Gabrielle is most certainly not depicted as a saint, but rather as a magical fairy-like being: a ray of her glory suddenly falls on Bernard, who was lost to us too early, and he, who was forgotten, finds some light shed on his path.
"Notre Chanel” (Our Chanel), Jean Lebrun, Bleu autour.