Reviewed by Jo Hardy
A story about the life of the famous dress designer Coco Chanel, starting from her birth in 1883 and taking you through her life highlighting the important turning points and showing how she over came the hard knocks in life.
In this fascinating life story we learn how the young Coco who was baptised Gabrielle came from a very poor background and was orphaned at twelve. Hear how she learned to sew while living in a convent school, became well known for her hat making, got her famous nickname Coco while singing in a cabaret show.
She was responsible for freeing women from the confines of tight restrictive clothing and introduced sports wear for women. We are told about her most iconic designs like the little black dress, the quilted bag, the number five perfume bottle and how she created her famous C C logo. Many of these designs are true classics and still popular today.
This remarkable woman also staged her own come back at the age of 70. There are also some of Coco’s inspirational quotes featured in the book such as “To achieve great things, we must first dream”.
We also hear how Coco opened her own shops, the first one in Paris selling hats then even though the country was at war she bravely opened a shop in Biarritz in the south of France. As neighbouring Spain was not in the war she was still able to source the fabrics for her fashion designs and had customers from both countries eager to buy her designs.
Later in her career she had the most spectacular catwalk shows to display her latest designs and there are a couple of pages with lovely drawings of the famous people who wore her fashions like First Lady Jackie Kennedy and Actor Audrey Hepburn who wore the iconic little black dress in the famous film “breakfast at Tiffany’s “.
The book is beautifully illustrated by award winning illustrator Isabel Pin who has published more that 40 books. There are many delightful colour drawings throughout the book depicting the story and also showing some of Coco’s famous designs.
The book is aimed at young readers aged 7-9 and is a good story to encourage young people to follow their dreams and not give up on their ambitions. It would also be good for any young girls showing an interest in fashion as Coco Chanel is a true fashion icon.
As an adult I also enjoyed reading this book. There is a lot about this lady that I was unaware of and I found her story in this simple form very inspiring. This would also be a good book for a parent and older child to read together and research all the fashions mentioned in it.
The book is published by Prestel in a hardback form with 88 pages and 88 colour illustrations. It is a delight to read and to look at.
The book is priced at £12.99 and available to buy from many good book shops. For stockists visit prestel.com.