Chanel: An Intimate Life reviewed by BOOK LIST:
So much of fashion is artifice and illusion, its allure dependent upon the power to convince and the willingness to believe. So it was with one of its most iconic and rebellious designers. An enigma wrapped in a riddle, Coco Chanel, as portrayed by biographer Chaney (who has also written about Peter Pan creator J. M. Barrie), was insecure yet daring, innovative yet conservative, independent yet needy. Profoundly influenced by her impoverished, peripatetic childhood, Chanel exhibited a cutthroat sense of self- preservation that carried her from the depths of seedy cafés to the heights of café society. Her professional ambition to rise from a mere shopkeeper’s assistant to become the unrivaled arbiter of style and elegance was equally matched by a hedonistic personal drive that delivered her to the beds of some of the twentieth century’s most celebrated and controversial political and artistic figures, from Igor Stravinsky to the Duke of Westminster. Deeply researched, Chaney’s enthralling biography unearths previously unavailable sources to reveal the elementally conflicted yet unequivocally gifted woman whose name will always be synonymous with sophistication and originality.
— Carol Haggas
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Chanel: An Intimate Life reviewed by KIRKUS:
‘Chaney’s engagement with her subject is evident throughout, and her exhaustive research into Chanel’s life … and the cultural history she so profoundly impacted make the book as fascinating as it is informative.’
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Coco Chanel: an Intimate Life
British author Chaney (Hide-and-Seek with Angels: A Life of J.M. Barrie) serves up an excellent complement to Hal Vaughan’s hyped Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War. Relying on newly released love letters, private diaries, and reminiscences Chanel shared with writer Paul Morand before her death, Chaney eschews politics to highlight the Chanel aesthetic—the philosophy of art, fashion, and creativity at the heart of her iconic brand. Chanel’s life unfolds in detail—her impoverished youth, relationships with artists, writers, and musicians in Paris, self-serving love affairs, business partnerships, and scandalous at the time behaviors (bisexuality and drug use among them). Using Chanel’s own words wherever possible, Chaney reveals the woman behind the icon—her vulnerability, loneliness, and disappointment at remaining childless. Most important here is Chaney’s insight into Chanel’s role in creating the modern, independent woman, who prized both beauty and functionality. Open about the difficulty of unraveling the various myths surrounding Chanel, Chaney concludes with a look at what became of the brand after her death. VERDICT While Vaughan’s work focuses on Chanel’s alleged pro-Nazi liaisons during and after World War II, Chaney details the totality of Chanel’s life. Recommended for general readers interested in biography, fashion, and modern womanhood.
— Marie M. Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., NJ
Look out for an extract from Chanel: An Intimate Life retracing the story of Chanel’s 1954 comeback show in the November 2011 issue of VOGUE.
Chanel: An Intimate Life in STYLIST magazine
Chanel: An Intimate Life in the LOS ANGELES TIMES
“Those looking for a … complete portrait of the designer … may not have to wait too long. As a testament to the designer’s enduring cult of personality — nearly 60 books have been written about her — another biography, Lisa Chaney’s ‘Coco Chanel: An Intimate Life’ (Penguin) is coming out in November. Using newly discovered love letters and journals, the book promises to reveal the truth.”
Chanel: An Intimate Life in the September 2011 issue of VOGUE
Interview and review in LIFE WEEKLY (CHINA)
Chanel: An Intimate Life in French magazine GALA
Chanel: An Intimate Life in the TELEGRAPH