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Coco Chanel: Pearls, Perfume, and the Little Black Dress

Review

Coco Chanel: Pearls, Perfume, and the Little Black Dress

Susan Goldman Rubin’s COCO CHANEL: Pearls, Perfume, and the Little Black Dress is a highly researched biography with a fun format that includes quotes and pictures of the acclaimed fashion designer Coco Chanel. From childhood until her passing, COCO CHANEL: Pearls, Perfume, and the Little Black Dress recounts the fame and struggles of the French designer who paved the way for female designers.

"Rubin’s exploration of Coco Chanel goes further than biographical details....I appreciated the seriousness to which this biography was executed especially considering the age range."

Rubin’s exploration of Coco Chanel goes further than biographical details and her achievements in fashion. She examines her as a flawed individual who at times in her life made morally questionable decisions. I appreciated the seriousness to which this biography was executed especially considering the age range.

I learned so much from this biography, especially in terms of her signature perfume and the business side of that. You expect that everything that has a designer’s name attached to it is something they are in control of or directly profiting from but that isn’t always the case.

The Coco Chanel depicted here is not a likeable person. She did what she felt necessary to remain in the public eye, but she was able to achieve great things. While Chanel was a women’s fashion innovator she was also a ruthless business woman.

After finishing the book, I did question the need for the publication of this biography when it comes to feminism. Coco’s company began through her romantic relationships and she was almost out business because of her relationship with a Nazi spy. Her designs and determination are remarkable, but her morals do not make her a role model for young girls. 

I wish Rubin would have focused more on Chanel’s later life and business after she reclaimed her reputation, because that would have helped connect the image of the brand as it is today to the woman who started it.

Older middle grade readers with a passion for fashion will enjoy reading about one of the most influential women of the industry.

Reviewed by Dana Cuadrado on March 26, 2018

Coco Chanel: Pearls, Perfume, and the Little Black Dress
by Susan Goldman Rubin