W3 Book Club: “Parisian Elegance and Elan!”

By Teri E. Popp and Laura ChinTastemakers in Residence

Born in Saumur, France, Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel-or Coco, as she became known worldwide-defined high fashion, first in France, and later in the U.S., for decades with her simple, but very elegant, sophisticated designs! She led an independent-albeit racy-life designing clothing featuring her famous interlocking initials consisting of the letter “C.”

W3 Book Club members love dressing up! In order to fit our fashion designed Parisian theme, we took a close look at the life of one of the premiere dress designers of all time with “Coco Chanel: An Intimate Life” by Lisa Chaney. However, since Gabrielle has enthralled many generations, numerous books regarding her life and times exist (see below for a listing of some available books detailing her work and escapades).

From clothing (tres chic), to jewelry (high end costume pieces), to entertaining (a large group of eccentric entertainers and bon vivants), to spying (she didn’t appear to do this very well, but managed to not be tried for it), to lovers (many and varied), to hats (Coco was rarely seen without one and actually started her shop as a milliner), to perfume (the iconic Chanel 5 tops the list of perfumeries everywhere), she lived life to the fullest!!!

To fully honor a dinner featuring Chanel, our hostesses chose the simple elegance of the Eifel Tower and small songbirds to highlight their magnificent menu consisting of:

Veuve Cliquot Champagne
Sussan’s Summer Salad
Bourgogne Chardonnay, 2015 Cuvée Alexis
White Bordeaux, 2012 Pouilly Fuse
Beaujolais-Villages, 2001 Louis Jadot
Coq Au Vin
Roasted Potatoes
Steamed Haricots Verts
Rose Liquor, Vom Fass (distilled from rose petals, this liquor from France may be purchased at the Mall of America)
Assorted French Pastries

During and after this delightful repast, the lively conversation regarding Coco and her fashion empire ensued! We ended the evening in the early morning hours of the next day! Surely, Chanel would approve! Until next month, Au revoire Mes Amis!!

A partial bibliography of books available on Coco Chanel:

“Coco Chanel: The Illustrated World of a Fashion Icon” by Megan Hess
“Chanel: A Woman of Her Own” by Axel Madden
“Chanel: Her Life, Her World, and the Woman Behind the Legend She Herself Created” by Edmond Charles-Roux
“Chanel: Her Style and Life” by Janet Wallach
“Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War” by Hal Vaughan
“Chanel” by Francoise Baudot
“Chanel: Collections and Creations” by Daniele Bott
“Coco Chanel: Her Life, Her Secrets” by Marcel Haedrich
“Intimate Chanel” by Isabelle Fiemeyer, Gabrielle Palasse-Labrunie, and Francis Hammond
“Chanel: The Vocabulary of Style” by Jerome Gautier
“Eternal Chanel: An Icon’s Inspiration” by Jean Leymarie
“Chanel: Her Life” by Justine Picardie and Karl Lagerfeld