Search our site
The Sapphire Widow by Dinah Jefferies Read the opening extract of the brand new Dinah Jefferies book before its publication on 05/04/2018

Coco Chanel by Linda Simon


Coco Chanel by Linda Simon

To call Coco Chanel a fashion designer hardly captures her social and cultural significance. An iconoclastic entrepreneur, she rebelled against and manipulated gender expectations of her time. With her famous little black dress, her loose jersey sweaters belted jauntily at the waist, her svelte unadorned gowns, Chanel changed women's silhouettes, and she became known as a champion of women's freedom. Chanel, legend has it, changed not only the shape of clothing, but the narrative of women's lives. From 1913, when she first opened a hat shop in the resort town of Deauville, until her death in 1971, Chanel sold more than clothing, accessories and the phenomenally successful perfume, Chanel No. 5: she sold a myth that became as attractive for many women as her coveted outfits. Linda Simon teases apart that myth that Chanel and her public collaborated to create, to explore its contradictions: a self-proclaimed recluse who emerged as one of the most spectacular personalities of her time; a brilliant businesswoman who signed away ninety percent of her company; a genius who claimed she was nothing more than an artisan. She examines the world Chanel both reflected and shaped, setting her life and work in a broad context of women's history in France and America, from before the First World War up through the profound social changes of the late 1960s. Drawing upon rich archival sources, Simon provides a lively, clear-eyed biography of a woman whose influence and legend transcend the world of fashion.


'For those who want an up-to-date bio that's swift and savvy, there is Linda Simon's Chanel. It's a slim volume, but even here we get details we don't get elsewhere, including a full chapter on the musical Coco, which opened on Broadway in 1969 starring Katharine Hepburn (tellingly, Chanel's first choice for the role was the much younger Hepburn: Audrey).' - Wall Street Journal'

About the Author

Linda Simon is Professor of English at Skidmore College, New York. She is the author of The Biography of Alice B. Toklas (Bison, 1991), Genuine Reality: A Life of William James (Harcourt, 1998) and Dark Light: Electricity and Anxiety from the Telegraph to the X-Ray (Meriner, 2005).

More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendations

Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

1st August 2011


Linda Simon

More books by Linda Simon
Author 'Like for Like'


Reaktion Books


224 pages


Fashion & textiles: design
Individual designers



Lovereading recommends, honestly reviews and promotes books-what more can I say?!

Rachel Bridgeman

Thanks to Lovereading I have discovered new writers and read books I would never had looked twice at - and enjoyed them.

Angela Rhodes

Lovereading is not only an amazing site, but it's one of my very favourites. It's like visiting a fascinating bookstore, but better.

Rebecca Jayne Barrett

If you LOVE reading then you will love LOVEREADING! It's a 'novel' idea. Seriously though I could not recommend them enough.

Rebecca Whymark

Books of the month/debuts of the month, kids/adults, fiction/non-fiction, free prize draws and free extracts, what's not to love?

Emma Smith

Lovereading tells me about new books before they hit the shelves, lets me find other authors I may like and has great prize draws!

Sheila Dale

The books for review are always great reads, brilliantly written, and introduces me to a huge variety of, established and new, authors.

Lesley Hart

It has enriched my leisure time by introducing me to a world of books which I would not have previously considered.

Val Rowe