Get a Glimpse into Coco Chanel's Love of Literature

Get a Glimpse into Coco Chanel's Love of Literature

Get a Glimpse into Coco Chanel's Love of Literature

For the latest installment of Inside CHANEL, Gabrielle Chanel and the Arts.

For the latest installment of Inside CHANEL, Gabrielle Chanel and the Arts.

Text: Juliana Bakumenko

If the most you know about Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel is that she founded the iconic French fashion house, Chanel, and loved a tweed suit, you’re missing out on the intriguing life story of this legendary fashion figure. Luckily for us all, Chanel has an ongoing video series, Inside Chanel: Gabrielle Chanel and the Arts, which you can watch below, to give us a closer look at their founder’s personal interests and deep love for the arts.

The latest installment of this educational series is Chapter 30, detailing Gabrielle Chanel’s intense, lifelong affair with literature. While we primarily think of Coco Chanel as always elegant woman, often recognized as one of the most stylish women of all time, the designer had rough beginnings and her own inner struggles. Abandoned by her father and left on her own at a young age following the death of her mother, literature became a form of escape throughout Chanel’s childhood.

Reading offered the Coco the opportunity to fantasize a life outside of her own and visit countless worlds with no travel expenses. The iconic designer collected literature through her adolescence and beyond, each piece helping her become the sharp, classy person we now know her as her.

The foreign worlds that she visited through her readings even helped to inform her work in fashion, coming up with revolutionary ideas.

Gabrielle, once a Parisienne socialite and established designer, formed friendships with other writers breaking through society, as they all spoke of similar worlds that they could access through literature. Literature pervaded most aspects of Chanel’s life, her friends including Jean Cocteau, Marthe Bibesco, Michel Déon, authors who were reinventing writing like Chanel was reinventing fashion.

The designer had a special place in her love of art for poetry, an exquisite form of beauty in her eyes. She even financed and supported writers and poets such as Pierre Reverdy, helping him to get his works published and keeping his manuscripts in her own library.

The great fashion designer’s personal anthology included novels, essays, art books, poetry writings, covering the walls of her rooms and office, exhibited as works of art.

Literature offered a sense of structure and meaning as well as an escape for Chanel, in a similar way that these elements have become the essence of the fashion house she founded.

Credits: Visuals Courtesy of CHANEL

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