Art & Culture

Gabrielle Chanel and Literature

Coco Chanel loved the written word. A new short film from the series "Inside Chanel" now gives an insight into her special relationship to literature.
Reading time 2 minutes
31 Rue Cambon; territory of Gabrielle Chanel in the middle of Paris

For the icon, literature has always been much more than just entertainment. Rather, it was an inner necessity that had its origins in childhood and that enabled her to escape the pain of her mother's premature death and the absence of her father. Gabrielle Chanel dreamed herself away while reading, fantasizing about the youth she was deprived of and fleeing from reality.

The catalogs, books and serialized novels she collected formed a school of life. An education that she offered herself as an autodidact and that would soon determine her character, her temperament and her relationship with others and the world.

Reading gave structure to her thoughts and soon became one of the foundations of her personality. Gabrielle Chanel would soon share this idea with the man of her life. Her supposedly great love Boy Capel introduced her to literary fields and to the great philosophical and sacred texts. It was he who encouraged her to read the greatest myths in the history of mankind, whose appeal continues to this day. In addition to fictional works, Coco Chanel also stimulated her mind and imagination through poetry and was inspired by the beauty of words for her own existence. These included Paul Éluard, Charles Baudelaire and Guillaume Appollinaire.

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He was Coco Chanel's great love: the English polo player Arthur "Boy" Capel

In addition to fashion, her book collection was a source of inspiration for "Coco" Chanel, with which the designer continued to educate herself and mentally went into unknown worlds. Within a few years, she had become an accomplished and daily practitioner of the "travel without travel" that reading offered. In books she discovered worlds like Asia, Persia and Egypt, whose art influenced her creations. 

Interestingly, however, Chanel refused to write her own biography and preferred instead to produce shorter maxims such as lessons in style and elegance. When it came to writing her life story, she confided this to some of her dearest writer friends.

Since her death, more than 150 works, biographies and art books have been dedicated to her, translated into all languages.

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Becoming a Heroine

The latest chapter of Inside Chanel deals with this special connection. The French fashion house has launched a series of short films that provide deeper insights into the work and philosophy of Chanel and its famous founder. The latest part of "Inside Chanel" now deals with the significance of books for Gabrielle Chanel.

"Inside Chanel" Gabrielle Chanel and Literature

Pictures and Video: CHANEL

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