The Queen of Paris by Pamela Binnings Ewen



Thursday Reading Links #12

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I don’t know if I like it that June is almost over… I haven’t even really had time to enjoy June. It’s a lesson for me to do more fun things, be more in the moment.

Here are some random items I’ve been reading this week. xoxo, Jane

Coco Chanel by Megan Hess




Fashion is ever-changing, influenced by the key designers that capture a moment in history; and Coco Chanel is arguably the most significant influence on women’s fashion in the twentieth century. Coco Chanel: The Illustrated World of a Fashion Icon is a compilation of Megan Hess’ stunning illustrations of the 100 most quintessential moments through Chanel’s history, from Coco’s incredible life, to the impact of Karl Lagerfeld and the incredible items that have become fashion icons – the little black dress, the luxurious bags and accessories, glamorous jewellery and of course the renowned Chanel No 5 perfume.

Interspersed with historical anecdotes and famous quotes from Coco herself, Karl Lagerfeld and other key fashion icons of the era, this book is an elegant and immersive introduction to the moments that shaped Coco and the iconic Chanel brand – and how fashion, in turn, shaped their lives.

When Coco Chanel by Megan Hess arrived in the mail, I was pleasantly surprised at its size. I assumed it would be much smaller, but it’s a perfectly-sized hardback that will look fabulous on my bookshelf or on a coffee table. (Look at the silver-plated pages!!!)

I was also surprised at the book’s substance. Besides the sumptuous illustrations, Coco Chanel has plenty of history, anecdotes and quotes.

The story begins with Coco Chanel’s humble beginnings and takes the reader all the way to the end of her life and to the Karl Lagerfeld era.

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Coco Chanel in 1932.

What I love

The illustrations! I bought this book purely because it’s a gorgeous, illustrated book for adults. I’m so happy I did! I loved reading it while enjoying Megan Hess’ creative drawings of Coco and her world.

I also enjoyed learning about the famous 2.55 Handbag. The book gave a lovely illustrated history of the handbag and explained why Coco Chanel named this particular purse 2.55. {Spoiler alert: Because she created it in February 1955.}

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A black CHANEL Handbag 2.55

What I don’t love

I realize this is more of a fashion book than an actual history book, but I wish that the book didn’t gloss over Chanel’s Nazi past. We learn that Chanel hunkered down at the Ritz during the war (with her Nazi lover) and that after the war she fled to Switzerland. I think the book should have mentioned the unforgivable act she committed during the era of Nazi-occupied Paris.

To make a long story short, Chanel took advantage of atrocious Nazi laws that allowed non-Jewish people to take Jewish-owned businesses away. This is exactly what she did to the Wertheimer family who owned a large stake in her company. She wanted to be the majority stakeholder again so she just took it back. This is unforgivable in my book and should never be glossed over. However, I am happy to report that today the Wertheimer family own and control the House of Chanel.

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Coco Chanel’s suite at the Ritz Hotel in Paris.

If you’d like to own this beautiful book for yourself, please consider purchasing it through the links below. I’ll earn a tiny commission which I will use towards purchasing more books to review or perhaps treating myself to a croissant while I re-read this one again. xoxo, Jane

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This post contains Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to use the links. xoxo, Jane