“And my hands, covered in precious rings, are as raw as a stonemason’s, knotted, marred by a thousand needle pricks— the hands of the Auvergne peasant I am at heart, the foundling, the orphan, the dreamer, the schemer. My hands reflect who I am. I see in them the struggle that has always existed between the humble girl I once was and the legend I deliberately created to hide my heart” – CW Gortner
Did you read Mademoiselle Chanel by CW Gortner?
Coco Chanel’s rags-to-riches tale has been told time and time again, and with good reason. Chanel was a woman ahead of her time, both in terms of taste, and the way in which she lived her life. Though Chanel is largely responsible for what we acknowledge as modern womenswear, she was a particularly unlikable character in real life.
In this fictionalized autobiography, Gortner attempts to humanize his idol and the woman who is synonymous with modern fashion. Though this novel touches on many periods of Chanel’s life and work, its broad subject doesn’t stop the author from painting a detailed portrait.
My take on the book, this tale kept me interested despite the fact that I am pretty well-acquainted with both Chanel’s personal and professional life. I did feel that this book sugar coated Chanel’s Nazi sympathy during WWII along with other unadmirable aspects of her life.
I am curious to hear your take.
So here are my questions:
- How does this book’s view of Chanel differ from the generally accepted one or your own?
- Did you feel that Gortner’s portrayal of Chanel was biased?
- Were their aspects of Chanel’s life that you were surprised by?
- Vogue wrote that “Chanel’s little black dress will become standard for the masses, much like Ford’s motorcars.” Why do you think that particular garment has become such an enduring classic?