Coco Chanel, her life and loves
by Val Orange
What an excellent turnout we had at the March meeting, Paula Short’s promised presentation about Coco Chanel, her life and loves having attracted many first timers to the Institute. Everyone was warmly welcomed by President Hilary Bradfield and after dealing with the business for the members, she introduced Paula to the waiting expectant audience. A superb raconteur Paula told the story of Gabrielle (Coco’s proper name) from the loss of her mother at age 11 and being taken, along with her two younger sisters, unwanted by her father to a convent and put into the care of the nuns. These “aunties” as she called them were to have an influence throughout her life giving her a fierce, independent spirit and a work ethic which was always meticulously hands on! The loves in her life were a varied mix of high powered, rich, influential men but she never married and was always found embroiled in all kinds of political and society events, while using their financial resources to build an empire of businesses known as “The House of Chanel”, till her death in 1971.
An engrossing talk with very interesting and period slides to accompany it held all listening with rapt attention, she was warmly thanked by Dorothy Anderson for such an informative, well researched and enjoyable presentation. Groups later vied to create our own “Little Black Dress” in her honour out of black bin bags producing unique styling and accessories, the winning outfit was modelled by Sally Welsh. A fun filled and super evening for all!