Bookishly Cuckoo for Coco: Required Reading for Chanel Fanatics

The life and style of Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel remains a well-spring of inspiration, even 134 years after her birth.  She was a thoroughly modern woman whose insight and instinct transcended the rules of her generation and still resonates today.  Credited with freeing women from restrictive fashion restraints, she was the model for 20th century life and style.  Her brand remains relevant and aspirational, inspiring publication after publication of her extraordinary life. Whether you love her fashion or her rags to immense riches story, there should be a book below that can earn a place on your bookshelf.  Although her favorite number was 5, I couldn’t limit myself to so few, instead offering you my top ten.  


Chanel A Women of Her Own Required reading for Chanel lovers Pretty Page Turner


Chanel:  A Women of Her Own

One of the first fully realized biographies, this book remains the gold standard.  By renowned biographer Axel Madsen, it was one of the initial books to explore not only the power of her designs, but the bittersweet backstory of the designer as well. I have owned this book for more years than I can count and I still love to look through it and peruse a well-written paragraph. 






Chanel and Her World Required Reading for Chanel fans Pretty Page Turner

Edmonde-Charles Roux, former French Vogue editor and confidante of Chanel, is considered her official biographer.  This is more of a pictorial biography, featuring a glimpse of her life as only her inner circle knew her.  Originally published decades ago then subsequently out of print, it returned with more full color photos.  This is a more intimate and favorable look at her inner and social life from the perspective of those who loved her. 






Required Reading Chanel Fans Pretty Page Turner

Chanel:  The Vocabulary of Style 

A full coffee table book exploring the vernacular that is synonymous with the Chanel brand.  From tweed, pearls and camellias, Jerome Gautier shows the continuing appeal of the Chanel style, displaying the original Chanel design against the modern interpretation from the catwalk and editorial print.  If you love fashion photography married to fashion history, this is the Chanel book you must own. 






The Gospel According to Chanel the-gospel-according-to-chanel-karen-karbo-pretty-page-turner

Known for the sharpness of her scissors, she owned an sharp mouth filled witty bon mots.  The only fashion icon listed among TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century, it was her wonderful sense of humor and great sound bites that are just as important as the boxy jacket and the LBD she gave us.  If you want to cull wonderful bits of well-worn and life affirming ideas and quotes to throw around at cocktail parties, this is for you. 






Required Reading for Chanel Fans Pretty Page Turner

Chanel:  Collections and Creations 
Literally 3.5 pounds of Chanel magic, this book explores a separate theme of her style with each chapter.  Explore jewelry, the little black dress, moveable suits for women and her favorite camellia flower.  Beautifully photographed, it begins with the history and ends with you being immensely happy.   





Required Reading Chanel Lovers Pretty Page Turner



Coco:  The Illustrated Life of a Fashion Icon 

Spending time in the designer’s life as illustrated by the amazing Megan Hess is a visual fantasy. Documenting the power of the Chanel persona, this compilation of Hess’ whimsical pages is the perfect mix of modern femininity.  In my mind, Megan’s ladylike florid style is the perfect vehicle for the soigne and streamlined luxury of the Chanel brand.





Required Reading for Chanel fans Pretty Page Turner

Coco Chanel:  The Legend and the Life 
Just when we thought we knew everything about the rise, fall, and rise again of this living legend, author Justine Picardie reveals more.  From interviews with the few remaining living acquaintances, Picardie shines a brighter flashlight into the hidden corners of her unfortunate childhood and legitimizes or demystifies many of the myths attached to her story. 








Culture Chanel: The Woman who Reads Required reading for chanel lovers pretty page turner

Coco’s beginning was not as luxurious as her latter end. Orphaned as a child, she would have been considered uneducated.  However, Coco was an astute student of life and had friendships and alliances with the greatest artists, writers and creative minds of her generation.  This supersized and handsomely priced book is an examination of how the ideas that fed Coco’s mind became fodder for her fashion collections.  The vocabulary of style in the Chanel brand was aesthetic in nature, making Chanel one of the first and best marketers of her brand.  Only for the most ardent Chanel aficionado, this book is museum-curated quality from the designer of  Chanel Exhibitions.  


Coming Soon: 

Coco is still considered a pioneer and blueprint for modern womanhood and is often listedamong the pantheon of women that changed the world.  Below are a few books coming soon that celebrate the impact of her life. 

Required reading for Chanel fans Pretty page Turner I Know a Woman:  Inspiring Connections of the Women Who Have Shaped Our World

Coming February 2018 


Required reading for Chanel Fans Pretty Page Turner

 In Praise of Difficult Women: Life Lessons From 29 Heroines Who Dared to Break the Rules

Coming March 2018 

Photo Credit:  Une Libanaise a Paris