Monday, January 24, 2011

Coco Chanel

Less Than Six Degrees of Seperation

Last week I mentioned that I watched Coco & Igor.

Afterwards I was excited to interview my dear friend Sheila from Birmingham, England about Coco. I did a post on Sheila last year and mentioned she was once technically employed by Coco Chanel!

Sheila resided in the home of Coco's niece, Gabrielle, to look after Coco's great-nephew. She was paid a good salary, far better than many of her other friend's in Paris at the time (though the movie portrayed Coco being tight with employee's salaries). Even though Sheila had a once-in-a-lifetime opportuntity, she claimed it was very difficult working for the family, mainly because she slept in the nursery room on the third floor with the little boy, had no time to herself, and was only allowed off 24 hours per week. She was advised by another caregiver to find a friend to stay with in Paris for that night, because if Gabrielle saw that she were still there she may expect her to work that day anyway. So Sheila would leave the residence from 8:00pm until 8:00pm the next night. Sheila also recalled tension in the marriage, which made things a little uncomfortable.

It was Coco's & Gabrielle's wish that the children learn to speak English, which is how Sheila got the position. She answered an advertisement in Lady Magazine requesting an English speaking nanny. She was chosen out of 60 applicants and thus moved to Paris. She recalls, "big bottles of silver-topped perfumes of Chanel No. 5 in the bathroom", and said that "Coco smoked like a chimney". Both Gabrielle and Coco's favorite flowers were white gardenias.

I have seen both: Coco Before Chanel and now Coco & Igor. I must say while I admire Coco's independence, her fashion success, and her acheivement on being one of The Top 100 Most Influential People of the Century, the latter movie didn't shed the best light on Coco, as she had an affair with Igor, a married man. Coco invited him, his wife, and children to stay at her home so he could work on his music, where their affair began directly under his wife's nose. When Igor's wife asked Coco if she felt guilty about what she was doing, Coco responded her with a flat, "No".

However, for those of you who have seen both movies, may be able to understand that Coco's life 'literally' before Chanel, was not the easiest, and probably explains why she did the things she did, her lack of interest in marriage, and her determination to end up successfully independent. Still, saying she was a fashion icon is an understatement, she changed history in fashion.


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  1. I want to see that movie! Very interesting story about your friends position in their household..that is where the TRUE stories really come to light!! Have an awesome week! xxoo :)

  2. I love the story of Coco Chanel & I've seen most of the movies except this one!! I have to catch it!! =)

    Melanie's Randomness

  3. Saw coco chanel but not this version of it, wasn't very impressed. great post!

    d e g a i n e

  4. I'm always impressed by people who change history, but to be honest I really don't know much about Coco Chanel. I should see these movies!

  5. Hi Colette, what a story! Great to discover you via the blog crawl. Your getaways sound lovely!

  6. I think not all of us carry those morals, and it wasn't long ago that I would have questioned myself today, but some never learn them, or learn from them, or the lack of having them....

    I believe in marriage, but not domestication, gosh, does that even make sense?

  7. I'm a big fan of Coco Chanel, but I haven't seen the movie Coco & Igor, yet. But I'll definitely see it!



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