Coco Chanel: The Illustrated World of a Fashion Icon by Megan Hess

Categories:Book Reviews

This delightful compilation of passion and devotion to Coco Chanel by Megan Hess is an illustrated story book for grown ups guaranteed to please those who have an equal admiration of the legendary fashion designer.  As a talented fashion illustrator and years of experience in graphic design and art direction for some of the world’s best design agencies and an enthusiast of Coco Chanel this book is the fine result of what can be accomplished when passion for an icon is combined with gifted artistry and creativity.   Megan Hess, with a string of unique achievements and life experiences, was destined for such an undertaking and who portrays the ever coveted Coco Chanel and Paris with an eye for beauty and detail.  Would one expect anything less from an artist behind the illustration of the New York Times bestselling book Sex and The City by Candace Bushnell or the graphic art produced for other top designers and illustrated works for Cartier in Paris?

Hess retells the story of Coco Chanel’s life in an easy and simple to read narrative and allows her beautiful illustrations to complete the picture intensifying the highlights of Chanel’s life while softening the unpleasant aspects with images of an impeccably dressed, model like Chanel hanging from the Eiffel Tower, engaging in sweet romance surrounded by Parisian street scenes, creating timeless fashion while dreaming of Camellia’s or flying over the rooftops of Paris as a child holding on to helium balloons. This creative use of illustration and whimsy would certainly aid the sensitive reader to cope better with the difficult episodes in Chanel’s life particularly in her troubled childhood years when the young Coco had to overcome the death of her mother and abandonment of her father to a convent where she and her younger sister were raised by nuns.  These whimsical and tenderly drawn illustrations of a young Chanel with scissors in hand and an eye for detail reveal signs of a determined spirit  and an emerging talent as an atelier.  Hess’s love of Paris and sound knowledge, admiration and respect for Chanel and her achievements are evident in her drawings that beautifully chronologize the designer’s achievements and life experiences from her special yet tragic love affair with Boy Capel (the foremost important male figure in Chanel’s life) to the conception of the little black dress, the tailor made two piece suit, red lipstick, the iconic 255 handbag and the Chanel Number 5 fragrance.

A wonderful book and a delight to read with a cup of tea curled up on the sofa that tells the story of Chanel – an innovative and forever emulated fashion designer like no other who overcame poverty and hardship with an overwhelming ambition and drive for success.  Hess fondly and affectionately exposes her own personal love affair of the fashion icon and the city of Paris through stunning illustrations and words.  A delightful read for anyone who is a devotee of Coco Chanel and a perfect, simplified and concise read for someone who desires to get to know the legend a little better without the time or desire to read the more detailed novels or biographies written about her life.

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