Book Review: Coco Chanel: The Legend and The life by Justine Picardie

Coco Chanel created some of the most recognisable and elegantly constructed clothes for women – but what  is the real life story behind one of the most famous women in fashion?

Justine Picardie attempts to get to the heart of what the true story of her life was. But it is a story that has plenty of obstacles in the way – placed there by the woman herself.

What comes through in this mysterious and brave attempt at Chanel’s biography is that she was a woman who enjoyed making her life even more exciting and perhaps more memorable than it really was.

But Picardie puts forward the theory that she did this in order to protect herself from having her past being used against her or simply that she didn’t want people to know what she went through as a child and by fabricating her story she was in control of what people knew about her.

It is a very psychological book that attempts to get into the mind of Chanel and for that reason alone it is worth reading to understand how she thought and her attitude towards life.

Picardie was given every sort of access into the Chanel archives and the level of research that has gone into the end result is extraordinary. It is filled with plenty of stories from those who met her and the impact that she had on those that she met.

But in a sense, Chanel’s voice is somewhat missing and everything seems done at a distance – which although respectful of the subject herself makes it feel slightly cold and emotionless. In places it feels a bit vague – such as when she started creating fashionable clothes – how did she become such a huge success?

It is perhaps not the book for those who haven’t read other books on Coco Chanel’s life, but for those who are a little bit more familiar then it does provide a useful insight into her life before she became the name the world would come to know.

There is no doubting that Coco Chanel makes a fascinating subject for a biography and it has been well written but it seems as though Picardie struggles slightly to make sense of this extraordinary woman who lived an extraordinary life .

Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie is available to buy on Amazon now. 

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