Jackie O didn’t wear real Chanel when JFK was shot
Karen Karbo worships Coco Chanel. Her book tribute is a delightful romp through the magic world of wardrobes and a fashion witch. She answers an e-mail from Shana Maria Verghis where she mentions a December 2011 Chanel tribute to Indian artistes by Lagerfield in Paris
Books on fashion can go the drab industry route. Telling you stories about tailors with high aspiration. Or mix everything and all that. And of course, it is a deep love of clothes and cuts that puts all the pages together. Karen Karbo’s The Gospel According to Coco Chanel, (Om Books International) is such a fantastic read, because she is a fashionista in her own right. And she is also an ardent student of the adored and celebrated French designer who started her life as an ordinary looking seamstress. (Chanel wasn’t great shakes with the needle and thread either).
The lessons from Chanel school Karbo learnt engage all women and men who enjoy dressing well, since it looks beautiful. And Chanel herself had a great design sensibility as well as a unique style sense. Maybe less flamboyant than current fashion pop-icon, the sensational Lady Gaga. But she was more influential. And taught women classic wearability and aspiration, leaving behind a formidable legacy which one doubts the latter will overthrow. Unless she stops making costume parades into Burlesque or circus routines. Because we admire a Cher. But how many people dress like her? Chanel apparently preferred understatements. And was a fetishist — her camelias, jersey dresses.
She would tell lies. But was an expert at self-invention, fearless, a multi-heartbreak-survivor. She signatured jackets, hats, slim-fit knit skirts and belted sweaters. Jaqueline Onassis Kennedy’s pink dress at the JFK assassination was arguably Chanel. Though not authentic Chanel. And every now and then, antique Chanel reaches the market, to be eaten by beady-eyed women, hungry as bounty hunters searching for obscure artifacts. So the legend won’t die. She’ll just get new seams.