She revolutionized how women looked. She banned corsets, shortened skirts and scented the world with Chanel No.5. Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel was an icon. But how closely did her carefully moulded image match the truth? Born illegitimate and raised in an orphanage - not by the two aunts that she invented - Gabrielle Chanel fought constantly to escape the mundane. She rose from back-street milliner to become the head of a vast business empire, and socialised with Picasso, Stravinsky and Cocteau. Edmonde Charles-Roux also reveals one of Chanel's best-kept secrets - her love affair with a prodigal German spy. Chanel's legend did not fade with her death, and nor has the mark of sheer elegance that she left upon the world of fashion. This is the living woman behind the vibrant legend.
This biography delves far into the past, unraveling the mysteries that Chanel herself worked to create - it's a beautifully honest yet surprisingly unforgiving portrait of a woman often outshone by her own legend - Observer.
Edmonde Charles-Roux served as a nurse and a Resistance worker in World War II, before beginning a career as a journalist writing for Elle and Paris Match. For twelve years she was Editor-in-Chief of the French edition of Vogue. She has written another biography, Don Juan of Austria, and two novels, Elle, Adrienne and To Forget Palermo, which won the Prix Goncourt. Nancy Amphoux is the translator of many major biographies, including those of Tolstoy, Turgenev and Pushkin.