Very few fashion designers have match –or will ever match, for that matter– the prestige, fame and recognition of the indomitable and gifted Gabrielle Chanel. She is more than a couturière –she’s a legend, an icon, a cultural symbol. Born in poverty and abandoned by her father, she nonetheless defied expectations, and rose to the highest echelons of the French society. At her time, she was a radical: the revolutionary who invented modern clothing for women, the feminist avant la lettre who freed women from corsets. She popularized the comfortable suit, introduced costume jewelry, and created the first couture perfume –No 5– which was to become the mot popular scent in history.

Thousands of books have been written about Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel and her oeuvre. Hundreds more have been devoted to the Maison Chanel and her designers, specially to the gifted Karl Lagerfeld, who revitalized the brand and updated its essence to the contemporary world. Yet, very few books can surpass the following ones in quality and beauty. Here we present you the very best Chanel books to date –editorial jewels which combine in depth content with exquisite, lavish photographs.

Chanel and Her World“, by Edmonde Charles-Roux.

A timeless classic, perhaps the most ambitious and elegant of all Chanel’s biographies.

"Chanel and Her World", Coco Chanel's best biography by Edmonde Charles-Roux.

The author, Edmonde Charles-Roux (1920-2016) was a French fashion journalist who won the prestigious Prix Goncourt (France’s biggest literary prize) for her debut novel, “Oublier Palerme”. She worked as a nurse during the Second World War and then collaborated with Elle, and later on with French Vogue, in which she became editor in chief (she was abruptly fired in 1966 when she wanted to put a black model in the cover).

Today, Edmonde Charles-Roux is particularly known for her several biographies on Coco Chanel, to whom she was a longtime friend. This one in particular, “Chanel and Her World: Friends, Fashion, and Fame”, originally published in 1979, is still the indisputable point of reference to understand Coco’s humble origins, the rise to prominence, the style evolution, business acumen and the inner circle of friends and acquaintances (Picasso, Diaghilev and Stravinsky, among others) that Chanel assembled in her life. Reissued in 2005 with a new design and a collection of hundreds of lavish photographs, the book stands out as a uniquely elegant biography of a great woman –perhaps the most ambitious and accomplished biography on Coco, certainly a timeless classic.

Edmonde Charles-Roux’s “Chanel and Her World” . Vendome Press. 384 pages. 7 3/4 x 10 1/4 inches. Over 420 color, black and white illustrations. Hardcover with jacket. Buy in now at Amazon.

"Chanel and Her World", Coco Chanel's best biography by Edmonde Charles-Roux.
"Chanel and Her World", Coco Chanel's best biography by Edmonde Charles-Roux.
"Chanel and Her World", Coco Chanel's best biography by Edmonde Charles-Roux.
"Chanel and Her World", Coco Chanel's best biography by Edmonde Charles-Roux.
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Edmonde Charles-Roux’s “Chanel and Her World” . Vendome Press. 384 pages. 7 3/4 x 10 1/4 inches. Over 420 color, black and white illustrations. Hardcover with jacket. Buy in now at Amazon.

Coco Chanel: Three Weeks/1962“, by Douglas Kirkland.

Three weeks photographing the legend behind the scenes.

"Coco Chanel: Three Weeks/1962", by Douglas Kirkland.

For 21 days in 1961, Canadian photographer Douglas Kirkland fixed his len on Coco Chanel. Kirkland had been an apprentice to Irving Penn before starting his independent career at Look and Life magazines (he was catapulted to fame when he photographed Marylin Monroe). In this occasion, he was sent to Paris on assignment for LOOK Magazine. Kirkland lived with Chanel for three weeks, catching boots the public and intimate moments of the couturière. In this staggering book, we have the result of those unique days, plus never-before-seen photographs.

"Coco Chanel: Three Weeks/1962", by Douglas Kirkland.
"Coco Chanel: Three Weeks/1962", by Douglas Kirkland.
"Coco Chanel: Three Weeks/1962", by Douglas Kirkland.
"Coco Chanel: Three Weeks/1962", by Douglas Kirkland.

“Coco Chanel: Three Weeks/1962”, by Douglas Kirkland. Glitterati Editions. 144 pages. 8 1/2 x 9 1/2; 118 black and white photos. More information on the Glitterati Editions website. Buy it now at Amazon.

“Chanel: The Impossible Collection”, by Alexander Fury

The most luxurious of all books on Chanel, a perfect gem

Assouline is a French editing brand specialized in luxurious, unique books. Here, it presents a unique gem: a sumptuous book, full of gorgeous photographs, which illustrates the evolution of the Maison Chanel. A revolutionary fashion powerhouse under Coco, it nonetheless lost much of its appeal and allure after Chanel’s death. La maison was in fact a moribund brand until another genius, Karl Lagerfeld, rescued it and transformed it into the blueprint of the modern fashion house.

“Chanel. The Impossible Collection”. Assouline (first edition: October 2019). 232 pages. 39.8 x 47.6 cm. Over 180 illustrations. Handcrafted limited edition in a luxury clamshell case. Price on the Assouline website: €820 (aprox $895). Buy now at Amazon.

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“Chanel. The Impossible Collection”. Assouline (first edition: October 2019). 232 pages. 39.8 x 47.6 cm. Over 180 illustrations. Handcrafted limited edition in a luxury clamshell case. Price on the Assouline website: €820 (aprox $895). Buy now at Amazon.

Chanel: Collections and Creations“, by Danièle Bott.

How a classic has been reinvented

"Chanel: Collections and Creations", by Danielle Bott.

The House of Chanel opened its private archives to reveal all the magnificent collection of Coco Chanel’s designs from the 1920s onwards. Thanks to the unfettered access to previously unplished materal, Danièle Bott was able not just to analyze the evolution of Coco’s style, but to assess how it has been rediscovered and reinterpreted to become the motifs for brand new garments, accessories and beauty products.

Inspired by the House’s signature fragrance, the legendary “No 5”, the book is organized around five central themes: the suit, the camellia, jewelry, fragrances and make-up, and the little black dress. For each one, Danièle Bott proposes a visual journey with archive photographs and original drawings by Karl Lagerfeld which chronicles the evolution and reinvention of Chanel’s most iconic icons. The result is a feast for the senses: glorious images coupled with intelligent content to convey the magic and allure of Chanel.

Chanel: Collections and Creations” by Danièl Bott. Thames & Hudson. 208 pages. 9.9 x 11.2 incles. 159 illustrations. Buy it now at Amazon.

"Chanel: Collections and Creations", by Danielle Bott.
"Chanel: Collections and Creations", by Danielle Bott.
"Chanel: Collections and Creations", by Danielle Bott.
"Chanel: Collections and Creations", by Danielle Bott.
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Chanel: Collections and Creations” by Danièl Bott. Thames & Hudson. 208 pages. 9.9 x 11.2 incles. 159 illustrations. Buy it now at Amazon.

“Jewelry by Chanel”, by Patrick Mauriès.

Celebrating eighty years of Chanel jewelry

"Jewelry by Chanel", by Patrick Mauriès.

Coco Chanel had an unfettered passion for jewels. She reinvented tradition to create modern and stunning jewelry pieces which combined her love for color and the elegant, classical beauty. In 1932 she launched her first jewelry collection and since then Chanel’s collections have produced fascinating creations. This book celebrates this spellbinding journey.

“Jewelry by Chanel”, by Patrick Mauriès. Thames & Hudson (first edition: 2012). 272 pages. 9×5 x 12.3 inches. 260 illustrations in color and black and white. Buy it now at Amazon.

"Jewelry by Chanel", by Patrick Mauriès.
"Jewelry by Chanel", by Patrick Mauriès.
"Jewelry by Chanel", by Patrick Mauriès.
"Jewelry by Chanel", by Patrick Mauriès.
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“Jewelry by Chanel”, by Patrick Mauriès. Thames & Hudson (first edition: 2012). 272 pages. 9×5 x 12.3 inches. 260 illustrations in color and black and white. Buy it now at Amazon.

“Lagerfeld: The Chanel Shows”, by Simon Procter

Ten years of Chanel’s most influential shows

"Lagerfeld: The Chanel shows", by Simon Procter.

Over the past decade, fashion shows have evolved into monumental productions. But very few can match the ultra-sophisticated runways of Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel: he recreated luscious forests, ethereal gardens, and even a rocket launch once. In this book, English photographer Simon Procter captures with panoramic images the magic of these “mise en scène”, the intense and visually appealing spectacles that captivated the entire fashion world.

“Lagerfeld. The Chanel Shows”, by Simon Procter. Rizzoli (first edition: 2019). 108 pages. 16.9 x 12.1 inches. Buy it now at Amazon.

"Lagerfeld: The Chanel shows", by Simon Procter.
"Lagerfeld: The Chanel shows", by Simon Procter.
"Lagerfeld: The Chanel shows", by Simon Procter.
"Lagerfeld: The Chanel shows", by Simon Procter.
"Lagerfeld: The Chanel shows", by Simon Procter.
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“Lagerfeld. The Chanel Shows”, by Simon Procter. Rizzoli (first edition: 2019). 108 pages. 16.9 x 12.1 inches. Buy it now at Amazon.

“Chanel: The Making of a Collection”, by Laetitia Cenac and Jean-Philippe Delhomme.

An illustrated journey inside the design process of the Maison Chanel.

"Chanel: The Making of a Collection", by Laetitia Cénac and Jean-Philippe Delhomme.

With hundreds of beautiful fashion illustrations from acclaimed artist Jean-Philippe Delhomme, Karl Lagerfeld’s approach to design is brought to life, as are the talents of masterfully skilled artisans –the embroiderers, flower makers, shoemakers, hat makers, and more– who translate into reality the drawings of a genius.

“Chanel: The Making of a Collection”, by Laetitia Cenac. Harry N. Abrams (first edition: 2019). 240 pages. 8.6 x 11.2 inches. Buy it now at Amazon.

"Chanel: The Making of a Collection", by Laetitia Cenac.
"Chanel: The Making of a Collection", by Laetitia Cenac.
"Chanel: The Making of a Collection", by Laetitia Cenac.
"Chanel: The Making of a Collection", by Laetitia Cenac.
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“Chanel: The Making of a Collection”, by Laetitia Cenac. Harry N. Abrams (first edition: 2019). 240 pages. 8.6 x 11.2 inches. Buy it now at Amazon.

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