• January 16th, 2014


    Based on a series of intimate conversations between Morand and Coco Chanel, written in the great storyteller's prose, this book artfully sketches the character of the elusive, mysterious and charming creature who inspired Malraux to say; "Chanel , De Gaulle and Picasso are the greatest figures of our times." Hailed on its publication in 1976 as "a great celebration of a book, a finely cut, sparkling gem", The Allure of Chanel attracted the attention of Karl Lagerfeld, who embellished it with seventy-three drawings, sketched for this special illustrated edition.*

    *Summary from the inside front cover written by Pushkin Press
    Illustration by Karl Lagerfeld p. 130
    Deluxe Illustrated Edition published by Pushkin Press

  • August 1st, 2012
    Par 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


    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.

  • July 13th, 2011


    "Chanel and Place Vendôme are very linked. She lived in the Ritz, now there is a Jewelry shop, it’s very Paris, there are many photos of her on the place Vendôme. The big site of the Ritz is also still the Ritz, a part of the place Vendôme." Karl Lagerfeld

    From the 1920s onwards, Mademoiselle Chanel refused to "settle down" and stayed at the Ritz Hotel occasionally before she decided in 1937 to move in and rent a suite on the third floor.

    Place Vendôme was one of her sources of inspiration. The octagonal cap of her first perfume, Chanel N°5 recalls its geometry and proportions. Later on, the Première watch equally reminds of this aesthetic.

    Today, directly facing her suite at the Ritz is the Chanel Fine Jewelry boutique which opened at number 18 in 1997.

    Photo: 1937 - Gabrielle Chanel at the balcony of her suite at the Ritz Hotel, Paris ©Photo Roger Schall / Collection Schall

  • March 23rd, 2011
    Par 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

  • November 17th, 2010


    First published in 1987, this book was impossible to find in stores until now.
    Only the most determined could still track down this collector.

    It is once again available in French published by “Éditions de la Martinière” and in English by “Abrams” in the United States and “Thames & Hudson” in England.

    In this book, art historian Jean Leymarie recounts the life of Coco Chanel and her work through the world of art. The text is accompanied by photos of Coco Chanel amidst the creations of Cocteau, Modigliani, Matisse, Renoir, Iribe, Doisneau, Marie Laurencin...
    Toward the end of the 1910s, thanks to muse and benefactor Misia Sert, wife of painter José-Mari Sert, Gabrielle Chanel was introduced into the most avant-garde group of artists of the time. Jean Leymarie highlights the friendships that forged the life and style of Coco Chanel, from Picasso to Dali. "I always felt a solid sense of friendship toward Picasso. I believe that he felt the same way." (quote from Coco Chanel, p.70)

    Photo: the book "CHANEL" by Jean Leymarie photographed in Coco Chanel's apartment

  • June 29th, 2010
    Par admin


    “I’ve loved Chinese screens since I was eighteen years old…I nearly fainted with joy when, entering a Chinese shop, I saw a Coromandel for the first time…Screens were the first thing I bought…” (Quoted in “Chanel Solitaire” by Claude Delay – Gallimard – 1983 p.12)

    Mademoiselle Chanel is believed to have owned 32 folding screens. Her apartment at 31 rue Cambon had eight of them, which she freely used in ways other than for what they were intended — she dressed her walls with them, like wallpaper, or used them to give structure to her private space.
    It is also said that she used them to hide the doors. That way, she was sure to keep her guests when receiving them for dinner.

    The Coromandel screens embody her taste for Chinese art, which she discovered together with Boy Capel. The Coromandel lacquer technique emerged at the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), in the Hunan province, in the heart of China. The major themes include mythology, scenes of imperial life and love of nature, which bestow a spiritual dimension upon the art form.

  • May 5th, 2010
    Par admin


    The camellia, a flower of stark simplicity and pure white, could not fail to charm Mademoiselle Chanel. It formed part of her private world: here scattered on Coromandel screens, it also appears in chandeliers or in bouquets with rock-crystal.
    Prior to being the flower associated with demimondaines or dandies, the camellia symbolized purity and longevity in Asia. Gabrielle Chanel made it a symbol of her designs, featuring it here and there in every item of a woman’s wardrobe.

  • March 7th, 2010
    Par admin


    At the end of the 1920’s, Gabrielle Chanel had a love affair with the Duke of Westminster, the richest man in England. Sitting on the table of her apartment are three vermeil boxes given to Gabrielle Chanel by the Duke.

    The metal which adorns them is less precious than the one concealed inside: a gold interior. It was thanks to the Duke of Westminster that Coco Chanel discovered this characteristic of luxury which she made her own: something which remains hidden, which exists only for oneself. This notion of luxury found an immediate echo in the fashion world because, according to Coco Chanel: ‘Elegance comes from being as beautiful inside as outside’.

  • December 22nd, 2009
    Par admin


    It is in this antique armchair, made of sculpted walnut and covered with white satin, that Gabrielle Chanel was photographed by Horst in 1937. The photographer later confided that Mademoiselle Chanel was very pensive during this sitting, and attributed this mood to a love affair. But after the shoot, nobody knew what happened to the armchair. Karl Lagerfeld found it in an auction in Monte-Carlo in the 1980s, recognising it as precisely the one from Horst's photo. This is how the armchair returned to Gabrielle Chanel's apartment.

    Made by Chevigny, the great 18th century furniture maker, this particular armchair displays unusual proportions that are explained by its origin as a "half-bathtub", whose wooden panelling (intended as a water basin) was cut and transformed into an armchair covered with white satin. The bronze legs indicate the original presence of wheels, which would have allowed the bathtub to be moved from one room to another.

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