Filled with fresh new research and never-before-seen photos, this updated edition of the definitive biography of Coco Chanel deepens our understanding of the history and legacy of the incredible woman who shaped modern fashion and created an empire of haute couture.

Coco Chanel was an extraordinary inventor, conjuring up the little black dress, bobbed hair, trousers for women, contemporary chic, bestselling perfumes, and the most successful fashion brand of all time. But she also invented herself, fashioning the myth of her own life with the same dexterity as her couture; and what lies beneath her own glossy surface is darker, more mysterious, and far more intriguing.

Uncovering remarkable new details about Gabrielle Chanel’s humble early years, Justine Picardie picks up the legend Chanel where it began—in orphanhood and poverty. Throwing new light on her passionate and, at times, dark relationships and providing profound insights into her connections with Cocteau, Diaghilev, Picasso, and Dali, this beautifully constructed portrait gives a fresh and penetrating look at what made Coco Chanel the strong-spirited and powerful presence she became. An authoritative account, based on personal observations and interviews with Chanel’s last surviving friends, employees, and relatives, the book also unravels her coded language and symbols and tracks the influence of her formative years on her legendary style.

Feared and revered by the rest of the fashion industry, Coco Chanel died in 1971 at the age of 87, but her legacy lives on. This special new edition has been extensively revised and updated and offers a uniquely authoritative account of the world’s greatest designer. Adding fresh new insights and discoveries, it comes complete with a compelling array of previously unseen images from the Chanel archives.

About the author(s)

Justine Picardie is an acclaimed author and journalist. She has written six books, including her critically acclaimed memoir, If The Spirit Moves You: Life and Love After Death. Her most recent book was Miss Dior: A Story of Courage and Couture, a biography of the sister of legendary fashion designer Christian Dior. Having started her career at The Sunday Times Justine went on to become a columnist for The Telegraph, editor of the Observer Magazine, and features director of British Vogue. Today, Justine Picardie is a contributing editor to Harper's Bazar, having previously been its editor-in-chief.


“Fascinating. . . . Intriguing reading. . . . In researching this book, Justine Picardie has shown as much doggedness in uncovering her subject’s life as Chanel did in disguising it.” — Edwina Ings-Chambers, Sunday Times

“I thought there was nothing more to say about Coco Chanel, but Picardie’s recent book does a great job of depicting a difficult and compelling 20th-century icon.” — Kate Betts, The Week

“Gripping. . . . In the deftest prose, Picardie lots one of the most extraordinary lives of the 20th Century. The book is lavishly illustrated, too, with images of iconic outfits and intimate photos from Chanel’s private albums.” — Mail on Sunday

“Picardie reveals a fascinating insight into the woman who created the Little Black Dress and who freed women from the constraint of corsets. . . . By using the archives of the House of Chanel, of course, but also those of the Duke of Westminster and Winston Churchill, Picardie has managed to create a truly three-dimensional portrait of an enormously complex woman.” — Claire Black, The Scotsman

“Elegant.” — ARTnews

“Captivating. . . . Wonderful photos and illustrations.” — ARTnews

“Picardie’s biography on Chanel is not only stunningly presented—it features photos, pictures and fashion drawings by Karl Lagerfeld on almost every page—but brilliantly written.” — ARTnews

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