The Allure of Chanel

Bee Wilson writes:

As Chanel said in the course of her fascinating conversations with Paul Morand, ‘over-embellishment had stifled the body’s architecture.’ . . . But in its way, Coco’s aesthetic was more tyrannical than the one that preceded it, as she turned her attention from underwear to the body underneath. . . . She told Morand: ‘I created a new shape; in order to conform to it all my customers, with the help of the war, became slim, “slim like Coco”. Women came to me to buy their slim figure. “With Coco, you’re young, do as she does,” they would say to their suppliers.’

(LRB 7 January 2010)