1. Coco did not like to talk about her early orphanage days in the Aubazine Monastery, however, throughout her life, many elements of her designs reflect the Aubazine esthetics she picked up in her formative years. Why is that?
Because she reinvented emotions as an artist, even if she claimed not to be an artist. She gave form to her silences, her early emotions, the drama of her childhood. She used them as a material. She was always at one with her creations. Her childhood scars, her friends, the men she loved, the artists, the events of her life, the mysteries, signs and symbols around her, they all influenced her work and her creations.
The old Cistercian Aubazine taught her a certain idea of beauty, purity, sobriety, and inspirered her all her life, but she would rarely admit it. It was too painful and personal.
2. Of all the interviews you’ve done, which story touched you the most? And which interview was that?
It happened of course with Gabrielle Palasse-Labrunie, nicknamed « Tiny »,Coco Chanel’s sole direct descendant who was close to her for over 40 years. Tiny was the daughter of André Palasse, the nephew whom Coco Chanel brought up as her own son.
It happened when Tiny decided to show me, because friendship made it possible, 15 years after we met, what were the most precious possessions for « Auntie Coco », since she called her « Auntie Coco ».
The most important things for Coco Chanel were gifts from Boy Capel, the great love of her life : first, a notebook filled with his notes, extracts from different spiritual books, bibliography, fragments of knowledge that they would share together ; then there were two cherished items of furniture, a Chinese marriage armoire and a Chinese throne base. « Boy gave them to me, I don’t want anyone else to have them » said Coco Chanel when she gave to Tiny, a few years before her death.
At that very moment, when Tiny told me the story and showed me the items, I realized that I really starting to understand « the intimate Chanel ».
3. She had had many relationships and had been loved by many men in her life, why “Boy Capel” remained as the most special one for her?
It was only to those closest to her, principally Tiny, that she would acknowledge that Boy was her only great love. Even though she was loved by other men in her life, she fervently loved Boy all her life.
He was the first one, the only one, who really helped her get over the childhood sufferings, death and abandonment, that’s why he was so special.
Coco Chanel herself told Tiny : « When Boy died, it was as though I had been flung from a cliff top. Either I die, or else I carry on with what we begun together. »
4. On and off, all her life Coco had been “the other woman” for most men she loved. Based on your interviews, how would you say about her attitude towards marriage? In the absence of a family, what was her greatest preoccupation in life?
Regarding marriage, her goal wasn’t to get married, she wanted to be independent. Though, she could have been married to Boy, who was her great love, but he married someone else.
Regarding family, in fact she had a family, the Palasse. She brought up her nephew as her own child, she took care of him like a mother and then a grandmother with André’s daughters. With her work taking up so much of her time, it couldn’t be on a daily basis, André Palasse studied in England.
She professed to have no interest in a familly life because it was part of her plan to construct an official image, but her family was very important for her, as well as her work.
5. In the later stage, her loved ones passed away one by one, she survived them all to have lived a long life. What was the thing(s) she cherished the most? During the 36 years when she couldn’t fall asleep without injections of Sedol, where, would you say could she get comfort and some happiness from?
From the very beginning, Coco Chanel believed in her own good fortune, her lucky star, her destiny. She escaped her condition and fate, she relied on her intuition as her only guide. She had a strong determination to construct herself, her work, her art, her legend. Nothing, noone could kill her. She knew she was doing something important.
6. In your book you said that Coco actually found commercial operations boring. In that case where did her success come from?
Indeed she wasn’t a consummate businesswoman, and found it boring. But she knew how to meet the right people, following her intuition. When she met the brothers Pierre and Paul Wertheimer, she decided to go into business with them. All together they created Les Parfums Chanel in 1924. Only then, Coco Chanel could dedicate all her time on her design work. She created and they were the businessmen, this partnership resulted to be the secret of their incredible success.
7. With the completion of the book, what do you consider to be the most iconic design of hers?
Spontaneously, I would say the « little black dress ». Coco Chanel created it in 1926, a black dress with a round neckline and long-sleeves, absolutely simple, radically simple. It was a symbol of her vision, simplicity and the mystique of black, revealing the essential. It was a revolution as well as a new attitude.
8. And besides, we didn't find much information about you, so we were wondering if you can also tell us something about yourself and the reason why you want to write books about Chanel?
I’m a French writer and a journalist.I live in Paris.
In Paris, I studied both translation and literature, and I specialized in William Faulkner’s works. Then in the U.S. I studied journalism.
I published two books on Coco Chanel, in 1999 and 2011. Why ? Because, since a child, I’ve always been fascinated both by her personality and the style shecreated. Almost 20 years ago, I met many people who knew Coco Chanel, family, above all the Palasse, friends, lawyers, models, associates, who accepted to share their memories. I wanted to know everything about her, it was an obsession.
Of course, in the meantime, I’ve worked on many other subjects as a writer and a journalist. I published other books, a novel and a biography of French ethnologistand Africanist Marcel Griaule. And I wrote literary critics for 15 years. But Coco Chanel has always been a great passion, and will always be since I’m preparing a new book on her.
第一章 黑暗 P10
第二章 隐秘的真相 P40
第三章 诗意的人生 P90
第四章 书来信往 P130
第五章 余音袅袅 P160
十五年前，我认识了伊莎贝尔•菲梅尔（Isabelle Fiemeyer），当时她正在撰写Coco Chanel, un parfum de mystère（《可可•香奈儿，神秘之香》）。我们见过多次，很长一段时间我们相互倾谈，同时我们之间也建立起了信任与友谊。自然而然地，我建议她构思一部新的作品。
可可•香奈儿不相信巧合，她相信自己的运气、星辰的庇佑和命运的眷顾。而我也非常幸运地认识了她唯一近亲的后代嘉柏丽尔•帕拉斯-拉布吕尼。嘉柏丽尔•帕拉斯-拉布吕尼与可可•香奈儿保持了四十多年非常亲密的关系。她的父亲是可可•香奈儿的外甥安德烈•帕拉斯，可可•香奈儿把他抚养成人，并视如己出。我们的相识始于1996年，我当时正在准备写一部传记——Coco Chanel, un parfum de mystère（可可•香奈儿：神秘的香水）。我们经常见面畅谈，从而建立了友谊。十五年后的今天，正是这份友情让我们得以一起逐步探索可可•香奈儿令人惊叹的私密世界。
尽管本书以童年的悲剧为叙事的起点，但这并不是一部全新的传记。作为唯一一位与可可•香奈儿关系密切且依然健在的亲人，嘉柏丽尔•帕拉斯-拉布吕尼希望通过本书的叙述与配图，追寻那些重要时刻，循序渐进地揭开那些不为人知的往事。全书分五章：黑暗（Ténèbres）、隐密的真相（Réalités invisibles）、诗意的人生（Etats poétiques）、书来信往（Correspondances）及余音袅袅（Résonances）。四十年来，关于可可•香奈儿的一切都成为了人们的谈资，写成了书，拍成了电影 ，却没有任何作品从最私密的视角还原她的信仰与灵感、她对象征符号、精神世界、神秘主义、文学、诗歌的喜爱，以及对所爱的男人尤其是家庭的依恋。