Chanel Booked

By Adlin Pinto

The internationally renowned French fashion house Chanel has unquestionably made a bold and lasting impression on women’s twentieth century ready to wear and Haute Couture fashion. From its humble beginnings in the world of hat making, set in an early 20th Century Parisian street, the House of Chanel has evolved into one of the world’s leading luxury brands. Find out about three new books on Coco herself and the house in our article Chanel Booked.

There are three exciting new books all the Chanel fans and fashion lovers will love to devour. Each takes a different angle of the multi-faceted home of this renowned House. From the personal and work life of Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel to some of her most famous quotes all the way to when the house was taken over by Karl Lagerfeld’s creations for Chanel.

The world according to ‘Coco‘.

We all know the name Chanel. You don’t have to know about clothing or fashion to know this internationally recognised French master of style. Coco Chanel achieved legendary status across the world yet continued to captivate young generations of fashion fans even after her death. This new book The  World According to Coco is the perfect gift for lovers of fashion in general and Chanel in particular. A selection of quotes she uttered over the years that highlight her sometimes somewhat cutting humour and her style beliefs. The book contains quotes on fashion, style, colour, time and fragrance giving a personal insight into the great lady.

Chanel catwalk

When Madame Chanel died the house of Chanel was a little tired and worn out. Even though she was still being praised for her collections the brand no longer held its grand place in fashion hierarchy. When asked to join and take over the collections many advise German designer Karl Lagerfeld not to join but he chose to and revolutionised the house forwarded it towards more glory than anyone could ever have imagined.

Ever since his first show for the house in 1983, the enigmatic German designer Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel collections have consistently made headlines and dictated trends the world over.

PARIS Fashion week February 2008 CHANEL Ready to wear fall winter 2008

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For the first time, every Chanel collection ever created by Lagerfeld has been gathered in one large glossy volume giving a unique opportunity to chart the development of one of the world s most influential fashion brands. This publication opens with a concise history of the house of Chanel, from the days of Coco Chanel to present day, followed by a brief biographical profile of Karl Lagerfeld, before exploring the collections themselves, which are organized chronologically and introduced by a short text unveiling each collection’s influences and highlights.

Each section is illustrated with carefully curated catwalk images, showcasing hundreds of spectacular outfits (from evening dresses and day suits to casual and sports pieces), details, accessories (from hats and jewellery to handbags and shoes), as well as stunning show set designs, and of course the most important models of each era who wore them on the runway.

Images © firstVIEW 

Gabrielle Chanel

This publication is a retrospective of the life and work of Coco Chanel. Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel was an icon of fashion, and can lay claim to having invented the look of the 20th century.

She stripped women of their corsets and feathers, bobbed their hair, put them in bathing suits, and sent them out to get tanned in the sun. She introduced the little black dress; trousers for women; and costume jewellery; her exquisitely comfortable suit that became her trademark.

Early in the Roaring Twenties, Chanel made the first-ever couture perfume, the infamous No. 5 presenting it in the famous little square-cut flagon that, inspired by Picasso and Cubism, that became the arch symbol of the Art Deco style. No. 5 and remains one of the most popular scents ever created.

Lots of quotes to read about fashion and humour alongside glossy rich images within each of these beautiful books. Three books that open up the multi-layered world of the House of Chanel and the stars that ran them.

These books are the kinds of publications to keep forever, each unique, each an insight into the most important house not just of the 20th century but also as we move forward into the 21st century.

Below are a few facts that not everyone knows about both ‘Coco’ and Karl Lagerfeld. Matched with the insights are some quotes taken straight from the book The world according to Coco

Cabaret singer

Before she ever had anything to do with fashion she was a singer. The only money she earned from was singing at a café-concert where she managed to accumulate cash when the plate was passed among the audience in appreciation of her performance. ( quote page 26)

Money is not beautiful.  It’s convenient”

The name coco

Gabrielle Chanel acquired the name “Coco” during her singing years it was not just her name she was known by it becuase she became identified with two popular songs ” Ko Ko Ri Ko” and “Qui qu’a vu Coco” (quote page 13)

 “Without trying I have always been different from other people’.
Chanel Paris Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015 Sept-Oct 2014

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Introduced pants for women

Coco Chanel outraged the fashion world when she wore pants in Venice, to make travelling by gondola easier. Coco Chanel decided that there was no comfortable way to ride a horse while wearing a long skirt. So she introduced pants for women. (quote page 31)

“A fashion that never reaches the street is not a fashion”


Talking about her famous perfume Chanel No 5, launched in 1921 it had its place in history secured when Marilyn Monroe was asked what she wore to bed and she answered “Just a few drops of Chanel No 5″. It was called Chanel No 5 as it was the 5th scent from her samples. (quote page 91)

“Women wear the perfumes they are given! But equally you should wear a perfume you love, one that belongs to you. When I leave a jacket behind somewhere, people know that it belongs to me”

Designing hats

Coco Chanel started her fashion career by designing hats. With the help of one of her male admirers, she opened her first shop in Paris in 1913. As it became more popular, she started selling clothes as well. (quote page 59)

A style never goes out of fashion “

Lived in a hotel for more than 30 years

Talking about her life Coco Chanel lived a solitary one, residing at the Hotel Ritz in Paris, where she passed away in 1971, at the age of 87. During the days she stayed at her work apartment and spent the nights at the Ritz. (quote page 16)

“I don’t have anyone to discipline me. I discipline myself.”

Chanel suit

Chanel revolutionized women’s fashion when she freed them from the “dresses in which one can’t move”. The famous Chanel suit has a military-inspired jacket, pad pockets, and buttons that look like jewellery. ( quote page 31)

Fashion moves forwards, not backwards – there’s no going back. You must live with the times.”

The lion

Ever wondered why the lion is so present in Chanel’s jewellery? Well, it’s because her zodiac sign was Leo. All her life she kept a lion statue next to her cigarettes and scissors. (quote page 78)

Jewellery is not meant to make you look rich, but to make you look adorned it’s not the same thing.”

Black colour

For Coco Chanel, black revealed a woman’s radiance and accentuated the essential woman. She believed that there is nothing more elegant than a little black dress. (quote page 89)

“Before me nobody dared to wear black.”

 The little black dress

In the 1920s she introduced the Little Black Dress to fashion. Intended to be affordable and easy-to-wear. (quote page 99)

So I imposed black; it’s still going strong today,  for black wipes out everything else around.”

Short hair for women

Her influence wasn’t just on clothes. At night, she appeared at the opera house with short hair, inspiring many women to adopt the new “garçon” (boyish) style. ( quote page 58)

“Other designers pursued fashion, whereas I created a style.”

Tanning became a trend

In the early 20th century, tanning wasn’t yet the trend as it was associated with working outdoors in manual labour. Chanel accidentally started a trend when in 1923 she got a bit too much sun on a Mediterranean cruise. She was photographed disembarking in Cannes, and tanned skin became a symbol of wealth and beauty. (quote page 28)

I am neither behind the times nor ahead of the times; my fashion follows life.”


 Chanel was superstitious. Her apartment was filled with lucky symbols to indulge these superstitions, such as a frog with its mouth open, pairs of Japanese deer, and wheat motifs, which symbolized prosperity. Chanel was also a big believer in the healing power of crystals, and each room contained a crystal chandelier

Katharine as Coco

In 1969, a musical inspired by the life of Coco Chanel premiered on Broadway starring Katherine Hepburn as Coco. The show was not only the only musical in which Hepburn appeared on stage, but it scored seven Tony Award nominations, winning Best Featured Actor in a Musical, and Best Costume.

Chanel logo

The logo on handbag, earrings, necklaces, and dozens of other products, the famous interlocking “Cs” of the Chanel logo were created by the designer and first appeared circa 1924 on bottles for her signature fragrance, Chanel No. 5. The logo hasn’t changed since then. ( quote page 116)

Those capable of inventing are rare; those who do not invent are many. Therefore, they are stronger.”

Shoulder bags

 In 1955, Chanel changed introduced the 2.55 Chanel Shoulder Bag The sleek bag featured quilted leather and a signature gold chain for the strap, making it glamorous for women to wear a bag on their shoulder. (quote page 112).

“Discoveries are made to be lost.”

Jersey fabric

When Chanel first starting designing in the early 20th century, women’s fashion relied on the corset, which made for tight, fitted, and uncomfortable styles. Chanel liberated the silhouette by using jersey a fabric then primarily used for men’s underwear. Jersey was inexpensive and it draped well, making it perfect for Chanel’s early designs of simple dresses. (quote page 59)

“I am a slave to my own style”

Favourite flower Camelia

The camellia flower has become one of the most iconic symbols of the Chanel brand, featured prominently in the apparel and accessories. In 1992, WWD visited Chanel’s atelier as the brand was designing various camellia pins for its upcoming couture show.

Two toned shoes

In 1957, Chanel created the two-tone slingback shoe in beige and black. It created a highly graphic effect: the beige lengthened the leg while the black shortened the foot. (quote page 68)

Elegance does not lie in mimicry, but in the instinct that directs a woman towards what suits her body and her personality.”

In 1987 Karl Lagerfeld took over the House of Chanel already having had success in the industry. Here is a few lesser-known facts about him .

He refused to admit his age

The ultimate mystery surrounds Lagerfeld’s real age which has been disputed by several sources. Lagerfeld claims he was born in 1935 while the internet is adamant that the creative genius was born on Sept. 10, 1933. To add to the confusion, Lagerfeld’s representative told The Telegraph in 2013 that the designer was born in 1938.

Iconic ponytail

Famously known for his trademark black aviator shades and flamboyant white ponytail, 1976 was the year Lagerfeld decided to embark on growing his hair.

Diet coke

Lagerfeld consumed up to 10 cans of Diet Coke on a daily basis. “I drink Diet Coke from the minute I get up to the minute I go to bed. I can even drink it in the middle of the night, and I can sleep. I don’t drink coffee, I don’t drink tea, I drink nothing else,” he told Harper’s Bazaar.

loved reading books

Lagerfeld was an avid reader with impressive collection that boasted 300,000 books in his personal library. As for their unusual positioning? The books in his collection were rotated sideways so he didn’t have to tilt his head to read the titles.

Talented photographer 

Not only did Karl have an exceptional artistic talent, but he also was a keen photographer who actively shot all of the marketing and media campaigns for each of the brands.

Owned 300 iPod 

It’s been said that Lagerfeld had an extensive tech collection that featured 300 iPods, each one programmed with different music. Unsurprisingly, he stored his collection in a custom-made limited-edition Louis Vuitton trunk nonetheless.

He lost 42 kilo in 13 months

In 2001, the designer underwent a dramatic body transformation of his own and claimed to have shed 42 kilograms in just 13 months, revealing that he woke up one day and was no longer satisfied with his physical appearance. Lagerfeld’s unusual diet tips and tricks can be found in his book The Karl Lagerfeld Diet.

Dropping the T

Lagerfeld was born Karl Otto Lagerfeldt. He dropped the “t” from his last name early in his career, reportedly to make it sound more commercial.

Humble beginnings

Lagerfeld’s father, Otto Ludwig Lagerfeldt, owned a company that exported evaporated milk. At the time he met Elizabeth, his future wife, she was working as a lingerie salesperson (perhaps inspiring her son’s interest in ladies’ fashion).

Spoiled Rotten

Lagerfeld claims that as a child he was “unbearable and spoiled,” comparing himself to Shirley Temple, and even until his last days he couldn’t go to sleep without a pillow clutched to his stomach.

Big break

Lagerfeld got his start in the fashion world in 1955, after winning a design competition sponsored by International Wool Secretariat, taking first place in the coat category. After the contest, he met a fellow winner of another category, who would also go on to become a famous designer and a close friend. That winner’s name was none other than Yves Saint Laurent.


Lagerfeld stayed at Tiziani until 1969, but in 1964 he began freelancing for Chloé, designing a few pieces for each collection, and in 1965 began designing furs, accessories, and clothing for Fendi, the Italian fashion house.

Hired gun

During Lagerfeld’s career, he developed a reputation for jumping from one label to the next, with a nearly unparalleled track record of success. At Chanel in the early 1980s he managed a seemingly impossible feat: He brought what was thought of as a near-dead brand back to life with a new and popular fashion line of ready-to-wear clothes. He is also credited with integrating the famous interlocked “CC” monogram of Coco Chanel as a styled pattern for the House of Chanel.

On is own

In 1984, after more than 20 years designing for various fashion houses in Europe, Lagerfeld launched his own brand, which he built around the idea of what he described as “intellectual sexiness.” The brand developed a reputation for quality tailoring with bold ready-to-wear pieces like cardigan jackets in bright colours. Lagerfeld sold the line in 2005 to Tommy Hilfiger.

Silver screen

Lagerfeld has served as costume designer for 16 film productions, including the 1988 French Oscar-winner, Babette’s Feast.

Picture perfect

In addition to speaking French, English, German and Italian, Lagerfeld speaks fluent emoji: he even created and released 30 emojis. The emojis included a silhouette of the famous designer, studded-gloved hands making a heart shape, and smiling and frowning faces of his famous cat, Choupette.

From designer to director

In 2013, he directed the short film Once Upon a Time…, featuring Keira Knightley in the role of Coco Chanel and Clotilde Hesme as her aunt Adrienne Chanel. The short tells the story of Chanel opening her first shop in French city of Deauville.


In 2014, Lagerfeld collaborated with musician Pharrell Williams to co-direct a short film, titled Reincarnation, produced by the House of Chanel. The short, filmed in Paris, starred Geraldine Chaplin as Coco Chanel, and told a fictionalized story of Coco’s inspiration to design her famous little black jacket.

Scent of a legend

What does Karl Lagerfeld smell like? According to ELLE, like “fresh, ironed linen.” The designer launched his first line of fragrances under his name in 2014, with a signature fragrance for men and one for women.

Avoiding vices

Lagerfeld abstains from alcohol, claiming that he falls asleep instantly when he drinks. He also claims to stay away from cigarettes because he needs his hands “for sketching,” and attributes his ageless skin to washing it every day before bed.

Books info

If you enjoyed reading Chanel Booked then why not read Books on Film Here .

Read more about Chanel forever at Thames and Hudson and find about the releases and general information

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