Columns on fashion, culture and ideas

Women's Fashion / Inner Chic

The Little Book of Chanel

Written by Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni and illustrated by Robert Beck, this column focuses on life in Paris, pepped up by its chic insiders

Chanel
Chanel Illustration by Robert Beck

Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni discusses her new book about Chanel.

Very shortly, my very short book on Chanel will be available. Published by Assouline, it comes in a black and white 3-book slipcase and is part of their fashion series. Like everything linked to the French luxury brand, it looks suitably chic and timeless. But then according to certain friends I would say that. In their estimation, I’m a Chooney (their mix of Chanel and Mooney.) Not really, I remain objective. Though tis true, I nurse vine-like emotional ties to the place for the simple reason that I began my Parisian professional life there. And the eternally great Karl Lagerfeld was my boss. Still, whenever I see iconic images of Linda Evangelista and Christie Turlington or bump into the equally fabulous likes of Kristen McMenamy and Amber Le Bon, I’m reminded that most roads lead to the Chanel studio.

"Whenever I see iconic images of Linda Evangelista and Christie Turlington...I’m reminded that most roads lead to the Chanel studio"

Way back in 1989, having just left New York where I was a columnist for Interview magazine, I tiptoed into the rue Cambon flagship. And ‘tiptoed’ is not exaggerating. Nervous, I must have changed five times that morning. My idea was to blend in with a Kenzo and Jasper Conran infused black and white school uniform. But I didn’t because everyone was so firmly fashion from Victoire de Castellane – pert in Alaia – to Virginie Viard who married Chanel couture with Antwerp-based edge. There again, not a problem since Karl and the supermodels were the stars and we were there to provide. Put in charge of camellias, my most terrifying task was to choose silk taffeta to match Linda’s cat-like eyes…Tricky! I’m often asked what was it like to dress the most beautiful girls in the world and they were goddess-like. It felt beyond exciting and very in the moment yet rushed past. Not unlike a Chanel show, actually.

The Chanel 3-book Slipcase by Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni is available here, published by Assouline.

Text by Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni

Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni is a Paris-based British writer who covers fashion and lifestyle as well as being the author of Sam Spiegel – The Biography of A Hollywood Legend, Understanding Chic, an essay from the Paris Was Ours anthology, the soon-to-be released Tino Zervudachi – A Portfolio – as well as the Chanel book, for Assouline's fashion series.

Robert Beck is former New Yorker currently based in Paris. A former classical dancer, his book for children titled "A Bunny in the Ballet" will be available early in 2014 from Scholastic, Inc.

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