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Coco Chanels genius for fashion may have been distilled in simplicity- but her life was an extravaganza. A brilliant array of luminaries fell under her spell - Picasso- Churchill- Cocteau; lovers included the Grand Duke Dmitri; the English roue- Boy Capel; a French poet; and- a German spy and the Duke of Westminster- who offered to leave his wife for her permanently- if she would only bear him an heir. Paradoxically- though she might have been regarded in some lights as a pioneering feminist - sacrificing marriage to a revolutionary career in couture - Chanel was utterly baffled by the idea of womens politics. Educated women? A womans education consists of two lessons: never leave the house without stockings- never go out without a hat. Chanels rise from penniless orphan to millionaire designer - inventing sportswear- the little black dress and number 5 - makes compelling reading- not least because she was inclined to design her own life as deftly as she did her fashions. Axel Madsen negotiates Chanels smoke screens with skill- bringing this tantalizing woman to life in all her alluring complexity.... Please click here to ask a question
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