Justine Picardie

  • August 1st, 2012
    Par Justine Picardie
    COCO AND MISIA<BR />BY JUSTINE PICARDIE

    COCO AND MISIA
    BY JUSTINE PICARDIE

    Extract from ‘Coco Chanel: the Legend and the Life’ (published by Harper Collins).

    “Misia – who was so famous at the time that she was known throughout Paris by her first name – met Chanel in 1917.
    This was an era when Misia was queen of the city, a muse who had reigned over artists since her youth, capricious and compelling, a law unto herself, with a court who paid heed to all her pronouncements. ‘What I admire in Misia is that joie de vivre always concealed behind a mask of ill-humour; that perfect poise, even in moments of despair,’ observed Paul Morand in his diary in April 1917. ‘And then Misia is Misia, someone with no equal and, as Proust says, a monument.’ As such, she had been painted by Renoir, Vuillard, Lautrec and Bonnard; inspired the poetry of Mallarmé, the prose of Proust, the music of Debussy and Ravel and the gossip of Cocteau and Picasso. A gifted pianist herself, Misia had sat on Liszt’s knee and performed Beethoven for him as a child. ‘Ah, if only I could play like that,’ he said, with his customary charm, and predicted a dazzling future for her; thereafter, Misia was taught the piano by Fauré, who regarded her as a prodigy. Her powerful position at the centre of the inner circle of Parisian art was consolidated by virtue of her close friendship with Serge Diaghilev, the director of the most sought-after ballet company in the world at that time, Ballets Russes. Chanel was 11 years younger, and not yet as socially pivotal in Parisian society, but Misia fell for her when they met at a dinner party at the home of Cécile Sorel, a glamorous French actress who was already a client at Rue Cambon.”

    Justine Picardie is the author of five books, including her critically acclaimed memoir, If The Spirit Moves You, and her most recent novel Daphne. The former features director of Vogue, and editor of Observer magazine, she currently writes for several other newspapers and magazines, including the Times, Sunday Telegraph and Harper’s Bazaar.

    Exhibition: Misia, reine de Paris. June 12th – September 9th at the musée d’Orsay, Paris.

    Anonymous, Misia Natanson in a black dress, 1896-1897
    Duplicate of a silver print photography
    Private collection
    © Vuillard Archives, Paris

  • June 8th, 2012
    Par Justine Picardie
    BOY CAPEL <BR/>BY JUSTINE PICARDIE

    BOY CAPEL
    BY JUSTINE PICARDIE

    Extract from ‘Coco Chanel: the Legend and the Life’ (published by Harper Collins).

    "His name was Arthur Capel, but his friends called him Boy, in an Edwardian era when English gentleman were still able to celebrate their continuing freedoms long after had turned from boys to men. Boy's origins were swathed in romance, and he came to Paris amidst murmured speculation that he was connected in some mysterious way to the British aristocracy.

    "In Pau I met an Englishman", Gabrielle Chanel said to Morand. "We made each other's acquaintance when we were out horse-trekking one day; we all lived on horseback." They drank wine together; it was young, intoxicating and quite unsual", and so was the Englishman. "The young man was handsome, very tanned and attractive. More than handsome, he was magnificent. I admired his nonchalance, and his green eyes. He rode bold and very powerful horses. I fell in love with him. I had never loved MB. "Yet at first, she and Capel did not speak. "Not a word was exchanged between this Englishman and me.

    One day I heard he was leaving Pau. "She asked him to tell her the time he was travelling to Paris; no other conversation was necessary. "The following day, I was at the station. I climbed onto the train.""

    Justine Picardie is the author of five books, including her critically acclaimed memoir, If The Spirit Moves You, and her most recent novel Daphne. The former features director of Vogue, and editor of Observer magazine, she currently writes for several other newspapers and magazines, including theTimes, Sunday Telegraph and Harper’s Bazaar.

  • March 23rd, 2011
    Par Justine Picardie
    CHANEL, HER LIFE <BR/>BY JUSTINE PICARDIE

    CHANEL, HER LIFE
    BY JUSTINE PICARDIE

    People often ask me, ‘when did you start writing your book about Chanel?’ – and the true answer is over a decade ago, when I first met Karl Lagerfeld. I was interviewing him for a magazine profile at the time, but we ended up talking about the ghosts of the past, as well as the fashion of the future; and one of the intangible presences in the room was Coco Chanel herself. Her portrait still hangs above Lagerfeld’s desk in the Design Studio, her apartment remains preserved on the second floor, hidden behind the mirrored walls; and late at night, when rue Cambon is almost silent, you feel that if you were to turn round swiftly enough, you might just catch a glimpse of Mademoiselle Chanel herself.

    Once I had passed through those looking glass doors, into the extraordinary world on the other side of the mirrors, I knew that I wanted to discover more. Lagerfeld proved to be a wise guide in the maze that surrounded the legend of Coco Chanel, as did her close friend, Claude Delay, and her great-niece, Gabrielle Labrunie. I was also lucky enough to discover several private archives in England and Scotland that contained previously unseen photographs of Chanel, and a number of letters and diaries that gave surprising new insights into her life. In my search for the truth about this most elusive of women, I travelled from the abbey at Aubazine that contained clues to her childhood, to the remote Scottish Highlands where she had fished with the Duke of Westminster and Winston Churchill.

    When my book was finished – not that you can ever really come to a final conclusion with Chanel – there was yet another surprise to come. Monsieur Lagerfeld produced a treasure trove: a series of beautiful illustrations illuminating the enigma that is Coco Chanel, which became the starting point for this wonderful new edition of the book…

    Release dates:
    France, March 24th, 2011
    Germany, end of April 2011
    UK and USA, September 2011