Living With Coco Chanel
La vie de Coco Chanel, c'est manifique oui? The life of Coco Chanel simply was incredible to fans looking back. A girl who rose to wealth and fame following an incredible talent and astute eye for business. The story of Chanel is well celebrated; the people who came in to contact with her are talked about regularly, from the nuns who raised her as a child, her lovers and of course, her clients - from Princes to highly celebrated people.
Whilst much is known of the people who shaped her career, perhaps less so is known of where she spent her time and the surroundings that influenced her.
Living With Coco Chanel is a stunning new biography of Chanel written by Caroline Young, an author who is not only incredibly knowledgeable about the life of the designer, but writes with such passion you cannot put the book down.
The book follows the life of Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel from her early days spent in a nunnery, where she learned to sew - a craft that would serve her well - to her glamorous time at the Ritz and beyond. It offers glimmers into her decor influences and Young's descriptions allow you to feel part of her Bohemian residencies.
What many don't know, however, is Chanel's love for Scotland or perhaps rather for her married lover Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster. Chanel resided with him in Rosehall House, a mansion house that is quietly crumbling in Sutherland - a drive of 4.5 hours from Edinburgh and one I am planning. Although it has been on the market for around £2.5 million over the years, the house continues to decay and remnants of Chanel are vanishing.
A once opulent setting for Coco and her lover, the imported wallpaper is peeling and the lavish Parisian furniture long gone. In its time, however, it provided a secret love nest for the pair, where they could escape society, fish and spend their lazy days together.
The love and attention Chanel offered the house with her lush Parisian decor, in muted browns and golds (and of course the introduction of a bidet!) has disappeared over the years, where the property now lives abandoned and in desperate need of repair.
Throughout the years, there have been talks of a hotelier taking over the building but as of 2019, nothing has happened and the property is currently not on the market.
It would seem a shame to hand over the property to anyone other than a custodian of the Chanel collection. Whilst multi-million pound refurbishers would do a tremendous job, I'm sure, it would take some one special to understand how, and what, to transform the only history of Chanel's decor we have in this country.
This is only one of the tales told in Living With Chanel. It travels through the dizzy heights of the roaring 20s, the calming routine of life with nuns, the chicness of the Riviera, all in their own way inspiring her and her work.
Of course, no book about Chanel would be complete without images of that work.... the book does not disappoint.
Living with Chanel is out today, the 5th of September. Buy your copy now.
With thanks to Caroline for a gifted copy of the book.