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Original Essays | April 11, 2014

Paul Laudiero: IMG Shit Rough Draft

I was sitting in a British and Irish romantic drama class my last semester in college when the idea for Shit Rough Drafts hit me. I was working... Continue »
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Coco Chanel (Critical Lives)


Coco Chanel (Critical Lives) Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The name Chanel brings immediately to mind the signature scent of No. 5 and the understated but sophisticated glamour of a simple black dress and pearls. But to consider Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel (1883–1971) as simply a fashion designer fails to capture her social and cultural significance. As Linda Simon reveals in this biography, Chanel was an iconoclastic entrepreneur who rebelled against and manipulated gender expectations of her time. With her menswear-inspired designs, her loose jersey sweaters belted jauntily at the waist, and her svelte, unadorned gowns, Chanel changed women’s silhouettes, and she became known as a champion of women’s freedom. Chanel not only changed the shape of women’s clothing, but the narrative of women’s lives in the early twentieth century. From her very first hat shop until her death, Chanel sold more than fashion—she sold a myth that became as attractive for many women as her coveted outfits.
Simon here teases apart that myth to explore its contradictions—Chanel was a self-proclaimed recluse who emerged as one of the most spectacular personalities of her time; she was a brilliant businesswoman who signed away ninety percent of her company; and she was a genius who claimed she was nothing more than an artisan. In this insightful book, Simon examines the world both reflected and shaped by Chanel, setting her life and work within the context of women’s history in France and America from the Roaring Twenties to the profound social changes of the 1960s. Drawing upon rich archival sources, Simon’s lively book is a clear-eyed look at a woman whose influence and legend transcend the world of fashion.

About the Author

 Linda Simon is professor of English at Skidmore College. Her other books include Genuine Reality: A Life of William James and Dark Light: Electricity and Anxiety from the Telegraph to the X-Ray.

Table of Contents


1. A Small Dark Girl

2. Boaters

3. À la folie

4. Double C

5. Sporting Life

6. Diva

7. History

8. Recluse

9. Roped by Pearls

10. Living Legend


Select Bibliography


Photo Acknowledgements

Product Details

Simon, Linda
Reaktion Books
Edition Description:
Reaktion Books - Critical Lives
Publication Date:
40 halftones
7.88 x 5 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » Style and Design
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Medical Specialties
Hobbies, Crafts, and Leisure » Beauty and Fashion » Fashion » Designers
Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Travel » Travel Writing » General

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Product details 207 pages Reaktion Books - English 9781861898593 Reviews:
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