Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel was always different. And she vowed to prove that being different was an advantage Poor, skinny, and orphaned, Coco stubbornly believed that she was as good as the wealthier girls of Paris. Read more...
Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel was always different. And she vowed to prove that being different was an advantage Poor, skinny, and orphaned, Coco stubbornly believed that she was as good as the wealthier girls of Paris. Tapping into her creativity and her sewing skills, she began making clothes that suited her (and her pocketbook) and soon a new generation of independent working women craved her sleek, comfortable, and practical designs. Now an icon of fashion and culture, Coco Chanel continues to inspire young readers, showing just how far a person can come with spunk, determination, and flair."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 57.
- Review Date: 2007-03-12
- Reviewer: Staff
Matthews makes her children's book debut with panache with this portrait of the famously avant-garde Coco Chanel. "At a time when France was the center of all that was wealthy, grandiose, and fashionable, Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel was born poor and skinny. Coco was always different," the text begins. Colorful snippets about her 19th-century girlhood will be the most likely to captivate youngsters: Coco preferred to play alone, pretending to act like the grand ladies in stylish shops. Sent at the age of 12 to live in an orphanage after her mother died, she learned to sew and made lovely rag dolls. She could not afford to dress like "the corseted ladies of high society," so instead blazed her own unique fashion trail. She designed practical, simple (uncorseted!) clothes while working in a tailor shop, and later sold her dresses from a Paris boutique, financed by her wealthy British suitor. Matthews reveals how Chanel's designs took off through their sheer practicality at the onset of WWI, and how the designer's rebelliousness reached beyond her fashions. The woman demanded to be treated as an equal by her wealthy clients, challenging the established social order: "Coco offered women not only freedom from corsets, but freedom from social constraints as well." Thus, Matthews offers a snapshot of European history through one extraordinary woman's life. (The author saves some of the juiciest tidbits—of special interest to fashion buffs—for a concluding timeline.) Airy, at times wry pen-and-ink and watercolor wash drawings capture the spunk—and sans doute the style—of this independent-minded, influential fashion maven. Ages 5-9. (Mar.)