Author(s): Axel Madsen
Coco Chanel's genius for fashion may have been distilled in simplicity, but her life was an extravaganza. A brilliant array of luminaries fell under her spell - Picasso, Churchill, Cocteau; lovers included the Grand Duke Dmitri; the English roue, Boy Capel; a French poet; and, a German spy and the Duke of Westminster, who offered to leave his wife for her permanently, if she would only bear him an heir. Paradoxically, though she might have been regarded in some lights as a pioneering feminist - sacrificing marriage to a revolutionary career in couture - Chanel was utterly baffled by the idea of women's politics. Educated women? 'A woman's education consists of two lessons: never leave the house without stockings, never go out without a hat'. Chanel's rise from penniless orphan to millionaire designer - 'inventing' sportswear, the little black dress and number 5 - makes compelling reading, not least because she was inclined to design her own life as deftly as she did her fashions. Axel Madsen negotiates Chanel's smoke screens with skill, bringing this tantalizing woman to life in all her alluring complexity.
Reissued to coincide with the film Coco avant Chanel, starring Audrey Tautou. The film premiered in Cannes in May and has since been released in 23 countries. Published as part of the series 'Bloomsbury Lives of Women': definitive biographies of some of the most fascinating women in history
'Axel Madsen's book cuts through the falsehoods. Set against the realism of historical events, it skilfully analyses the creation of the Chanel phenomenon' Vogue 'The best yet book on the big C' Elle 'A great rags to riches story and the fascination of the gorgon does come through' Irish Independent 'A lively biography of the extraordinary fashion designer whose life was from start to finish an extravaganza' Financial Times
Axel Madsen (born May 27, 1930) was a Danish-American biographer and journalist. Born in Copenhagen and raised in Paris, Madsen turned from music to writing in the early 1950s, initially for the Paris edition of the New York Herald Tribune. In 1956 he moved to Canada and began working for United Press International. He moved to Hollywood in the early 1960s. Biographies included Billy Wilder, Barbara Stanwyck, Coco Chanel, John Jacob Astor, Jacques Cousteau, Yves St. Laurent, Andre Malraux, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, William C. Durant, William Wyler, and John Huston.He died of cancer in Los Angeles in 2007.