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The Real Coco Chanel (Hardback)

Social History Women of History White Owl

By Rose Sgueglia
Imprint: White Owl
Pages: 184
Illustrations: 32
ISBN: 9781526761019
Published: 30th June 2020

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RRP £19.99

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Coco Chanel lived her own life as a romantic heroine.

Fuelled by 19th century literature, she built a life which was partly myth and, partly, factual.

She was the fashion designer everyone admired. The business woman whose fortune was impossible to track. She was also a performer, lover of many high profile intellectuals and, as believed by many, a nazi spy.

Her life was, extraordinarily, affected by history (the nazi movement and World War II), symbolism and literature.

This biography explores her life from her troubled and poor past to the opening of her first hat shop, passions and secrets; the biography also draws parallelisms between myths and facts and how, and if ever, they match at all.

The biography also features chapters on the Chanel Maison and the creation of her iconic trademark as well as her ‘little black dress’ and ‘Chanel No 5’.

Finally, the biography ends with a reflection on how the myth of Coco Chanel is represented today in pop culture.

I was so enlightened by this book!

>From little black dresses to the world’s first abstract fragrance, Chanel No. 5, there are these known iconic ventures that Coco Chanel was known for. This book provided a great background of her life, which covered her fashion firsts, fashion influences, her childhood, her lovers.

It was unique in how it took a deeper dive into controversies and successes of her career and personal life, including those surrounding her signature fragrance, whether or not she was a spy, her social connections, and it provided an insightful synopsis of societal viewpoints and the context of the time.

I liked the way it was organized, an easy to navigate blend of topical and chronological... It connected a lot of dots for me, historically, from war events to socialites to fashion moguls, industry, and design, business undertakings, and how it all unfolded into her own personhood and characteristic style for simplicity, self-assurance, practicality, her hope, her persistence, her dreams.

I’d highly recommend this to anyone looking for an interesting overview of her life and for gaining deeper insight into dispelling the rumors and confirming the knowns and unknowns out there.

NetGalley, Erica Robbin

This is a delightful little read. The author's enthusiasm for her subject is apparent and I truly enjoyed her writing. The way she presented Coco Chanel's rise to fame and fortune against all odds is an interesting spin, and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I also like that Mademoiselle's fascination with mysticism is discussed. Well done.

NetGalley, Deb Hunter

The name Chanel carries with a certain pizzazz. Frissons of excitement go through a person when they are face to face with an item that carries this name that speaks of exclusivity, style and money. Chanel is a luxury company that focuses on high fashion and ready-made clothes, luxury products, and accessories and the person behind the company, Coco Chanel really is a mystery and a wonder wrapped in a petite frame of a woman with a spirit of steel.

Many books, movies and even musicals have been written about the woman Coco Chanel, all claiming to have a greater insight into what made this creative masterpiece of a woman work. This biography does give understanding into several aspects of Chanel’s life as her life as a romantic hero, the orphan, the woman, the designer, the spy and the icon. This is not a biography starting from her birth and following her life in an orderly manner. Rather it explores her life around topics, slowly revealing more of the woman as the piece develops.

Sgueglia has written a short biography that is accessible to even novices on the genre and gives an interesting overview of the woman that is now looked upon as the embodiment of fashion and style. There are small surprises for the reader to discover such as Chanel being a drug addict, injecting morphine throughout her life and her love of and huge collection of books hidden within the pages of this work. But the very real humanness of Chanel, the woman wanting to fit into a society that she was excluded from simply because of her circumstances of birth, the desire to create a better history, the ruthlessness of cutting out existing members of her family because they didn’t fit her narrative are all written about and considered. Given the magic that is the name of Chanel, this book is sure to find a large market of devotees who will clamour to read more about this woman and it does the story very well.

NetGalley, Courtney Stuart

I enjoyed this book and the insight it gave to the person who created some of the nicest perfumes and how she got there. An interesting read.

NetGalley, Susan Anne Burton

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I want to start off my saying that Biographies and non fiction books are never normally my thing. I tend to find them either too vague or weighed down with facts after facts. However Rose Sgueglia has changed my view on this, at least on her own work that is!

Coco Chanel is a name and iconic brand that everyone knows about however apart from her name, suits and perfume I knew very little about the woman and her life behind the name. I was extremely surprised by her life and I loved the depiction that Rose gave of this incredible if not somewhat scary woman who powered through a time where women were not equal and had to fight doubly hard to their male counterparts for recognition.

I loved the flow of this book sticking to an easy timeline but going back into depths for certain areas. All of the main points were covered with impeccable information and written in a way that I could not put this book down. It was said that Chanel was a romantic heroine and I must admit that this book felt like she was one even with all of the ups and downs of her life.

I would recommend this for anyone who knows nothing about Chanel like me as it gives a goo insight to her as a whole, but also for Chanel lovers, it is a light and easy ready that will whisk you away to a Parisian dream in no time.

NetGalley, Ashleigh Davies

What a woman for one woman totally fascinating story from beginning to end she had such charm and charisma I really enjoyed this book and can highly recommend.

NetGalley, Jeanie Mckinlay

I have a passing knowledge of Coco Chanel but this book really helped me learn a lot more about her. I thought it was very interesting and really enjoyed it.

NetGalley, Brooke Olson

I am always a huge fan of these gorgeous, historical female icons. When I saw this title on NetGalley, I jumped and was lucky enough to have my wish granted. *THANK YOU!*
Coco Chanel is a household name, regardless if you know what she’s known for. I learned SO MUCH from this novel, and I had to keep reminding myself that this was all true! We get to see and celebrate many of Coco’s achievements and the feminist river that flows through all of them. The style of writing included here is phenomenal and reminded me of fiction, not a biography. If you love fashion or anything Chanel, grab this! It was AMAZING!

NetGalley, Justine Fye

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a fascinating and unvarnished look at Coco Chanel (including before she was "Coco") and I learned so many things I did not know. I had no idea that she was raised in an orphanage, for example. I love the fact that this book celebrates Coco's many achievements and the feminist nature of so many of them -- for example, how scandalous it was back then for women to wear suits -- but also takes an unbiased look at her flaws. This book is written as well and as thrillingly as any number of fiction novels I have read lately, but it's all true. I highly recommend this book to any fan of fashion and especially to any fan of Chanel.

NetGalley, Christina Lauren

I've never read about Coco Chanel before nor do I own any Chanel products but I'm always interested in the stories of successful people.

She was definitely one fascinating person, my favourite part was her early years, the downhills experienced, how society created an image of what she should be, along with judging her as one would do with a back story like herself.

This book has inspired me to watch film adaption.

I do not want to give everything away.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in non fiction books.

NetGalley, Shriya Khambhaita

About Rose Sgueglia

Rose Sgueglia is a writer and marketing consultant based in Cardiff. She is founder and director of Miss Squiggles, a magazine, marketing agency and online shop. As part of her role at Miss Squiggles, she works with clients on their social media, digital marketing and PR strategies.


Rose is, also, a freelance journalist. Her work has been published in different publications including GQ, La Repubblica, and Yahoo. She holds a BA in Journalism, Film and Media and a Post Graduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism from Cardiff University.


Rose is author of Dear Miss Squiggles, a pocket book; available online and in different bookshops in the UK.

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