Coco Chanel: Pearls, Perfume, and the Little Black Dress
Coco Chanel: Pearls, Perfume, and the Little Black Dress
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Annotation: Chronicles the life and accomplishments of the iconic fashion designer, discussing her years in an orphanage, her development as a designer, and her fierce competition with the Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #158843
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: viii, 133 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-419-72544-0
ISBN 13: 978-1-419-72544-9
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2017007094
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
The trajectory of the French fashion designer's life and successful career is outlined in a well-researched, highly readable biography. Rubin addresses the darker parts of Chanel's history--her childhood in an orphanage, her relationship with a Nazi intelligence officer--as well as her iconic industry "firsts," including women's suits and the little black dress. The elegantly designed volume includes plenty of photographs. Bib., ind.
Kirkus Reviews
In a warts-and-all biography, Rubin introduces readers to Coco Chanel, one of the most well-known fashion designers in the world, whose brand epitomized elegance and good taste. Beginning with the difficult years Chanel spent in an orphanage, Rubin traces her development as a designer and focuses on the obstacles Chanel faced as a financially independent woman in an era when women were expected to marry. Rubin highlights some of Chanel's memorable firsts for the fashion industry, including the little black dress, the quilted purse with gold chain, and the perfume Chanel No. 5. She also chronicles Chanel's intense competition with Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli. Rubin does not hold back in discussing the unpleasant aspects of her subject. She was an outspoken anti-Semite throughout her life; Rubin traces this to Chanel's stay at the orphanage during a time when Catholic institutions taught children to hate Jews. While France was occupied during World War II, Chanel dated a German intelligence officer and demonstrated little sympathy for French Jews facing persecution but did not suffer the consequences of other collaborators after liberation. Fittingly, the design of the book is gorgeous, with herringbone-tweed backgrounds to the text pages and Art Deco-inspired flourishes framing pull quotes; it is amply illustrated with archival photographs.An intriguing, well-rounded portrait of a fascinating woman whose many important contributions to art and fashion remain popular today. (bibliography, source notes, index) (Biography. 10-14)
Publishers Weekly
In this handsomely designed biography, Rubin (Maya Lin: Thinking with Her Hands) offers a succinct, balanced portrayal of controversial haute couturière Gabrielle -Coco- Chanel (1883-1971). After an impoverished start in life, the young milliner-reputed for her charm, temper, business acumen, and lies-turned her eye for comfort and simple lines into the House of Chanel, thanks to financial and emotional support from a series of rich men. Chanel-s working methods were unconventional: rather than draw her designs, she cut and pinned them directly on models herself. Known best for the -little black dress- and her signature perfume, Chanel also innovated the use of -masculine fabrics- and the adaptation of men-s styles to women-s clothing. With her success threatened in the 1930s by strikes, the advent of Elsa Schiaparelli, and war, Chanel closed her shop until finally, in 1954, she again produced, as one critic put it, -timeless clothes... which always look elegant.- Striving to redeem her subject, Rubin provides an even-handed discussion of Chanel-s possible collaboration with the Nazis and other wartime activities, but the book-s lasting impression is of an egotistical and opportunistic design genius. Ages 10-14. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 58 This slim work on the life and legacy of Coco Chanel begins in 1883, the year of her birth. Coco, née Gabrielle, was born into poverty and deposited at age 11 in a Catholic orphanage. It was there that she learned a sense of austerity that she later translated to the simple, clean lines of the clothes she designed. Chanel was an industrious self-starter who worked her way from seamstress to hat maker. As she expanded her range, she was credited with originating the little black dress, trousers made for women, costume jewelry, andperhaps most importantlyliberating women from their corsets and girdles. Rubin's simple, straightforward writing conveys not only the high styles of wealthy European women in the 1900s but also provides a glimpse into the limitations women faced during that time. Though Chanel was immersed in the world of women's fashion, it was an industry dominated by male designers. Furthermore, she had to rely on men to finance her at the start of her career and, later, for the production of her iconic Chanel No°5 perfume. Rubin's work also depicts the broader historical context of European life for the upper class during and between the two world wars, including information on Chanel's anti-Semitism and rumors that she was a Nazi sympathizer. Photos and illustrations throughout visually complement Rubin's detailed descriptions of Chanel's designs. VERDICT A well-researched primer packed with details on a significant trailblazer. Give to readers interested in fashion, business, and history. Melissa Kazan, Horace Mann School, NY
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Horn Book (4/1/19)
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (2/1/18)
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Reading Level: 5.0
Interest Level: 5-9
Guided Reading Level: Y
Fountas & Pinnell: Y

Award-winning author Susan Goldman Rubin introduces readers to the most well-known fashion designer in the world, Coco Chanel. Beginning with the difficult years Chanel spent in an orphanage, Goldman Rubin traces Coco's development as a designer and demonstrates how her determination to be independent helped her gain worldwide recognition. Coco Chanel focuses on the obstacles Chanel faced as a financially independent woman in an era when women were expected to marry; as well as her fierce competition with the Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli; and some of her most memorable firsts for the fashion industry, including the little black dress, the quilted purse with gold chain, and the perfume Chanel No. 5. The book includes a bibliography, a list of where to see her work, and an index.


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