Chanel: Collections and Creations by Daniele Bott

2007. 206 pages. Hardcover. Thames and Hudson.

From: Interlibrary Loan through public library

In a nutshell:

This book describes the fashion design of Coco Chanel, accompanied by photographs of Chanel collection pieces.  The book is grouped into sections: the suit, the camellia (Chanel’s signature symbol), jewelry, makeup and perfume, and the little black dress.


After watching the film Coco Before Chanel, I wanted to find a book that displayed her fashion designs.  Chanel: Collections and Creations perfectly fits the bill.  There are lots of gorgeous photographs in this coffee-table sized book.  I particularly liked the suit and the little black dress segments.  I skipped the makeup and perfume section because that’s not where my interest in fashion lies.

While containing some interesting facts, Daniele Bott’s prose annoyed me in the way it fawns over Mademoiselle and her fashion house.  I speculated whether access to the Chanel collections had been given to Bott on the condition that she meet a certain quota of superlatives and gushing sentences.

Here’s a couple of excerpts (sorry I forgot to note the page numbers):

No two camellias are alike, not a single collection uses last season’s creations.  Sometimes, 15 centimetres of fabric measuring 90 to 130 centimetres in width is enough to make three or four camellias – what precision, what sophistication and elegance in the cutting, the mounting, the finishing!

The house’s perfectionism is apparent in the skilful combining of fabrics in typical Chanel style, transfiguring a black evening gown into a jewel in itself.

Now imagine the cumulative effect of a book where every sentence is like that and maybe you’ll understand my exasperation.

Oh well.  I really do admire (and appreciate) Chanel for her design philosophy that prioritized comfortable, attractive clothes for women.  And the whole reason I picked up the book was for the pictures.  I was definitely coveting some of the suits and black dresses pictured.  Thus, it seems fitting to conclude my review by including a sample of the photographs.


Filed under Book Review

6 responses to “Chanel: Collections and Creations by Daniele Bott

  1. I had to grit my teeth during the text excerpts…they were all so star-struck. But I have to admit that I love the images.

    The cover is also simply too beautiful!

  2. The text in coffee table books can be absolutely infuriating- it can feel so robotic or much too enthusiastic. At least you got want you wanted out of it.

  3. Eva

    Fawning books drive me crazy! But wasn’t Coco Avant Chanel gorgeous?!

  4. ooh the pictures are beautiful! i’m going to pass this on to my cousin. i’m sure she would like the book since she’s working in the fashion industry. thanks for bringing my attention to it!

  5. Ouch … that writing is pretty bad. I imagine this is a book to be savored for its photos!

  6. Nish – Thanks for stopping by – it’s a really lovely cover, I agree!

    Lit Omnivore – I haven’t ‘read’ too many coffee table books before, but as they are primarily intended as visual treats, it is understandable that the text may tend to be sub-par.

    Eva – Coco Avant Chanel was indeed a good-looking film. I thought Audrey Tautou showed her versatility playing Coco. I was hoping there might be a little bit more focus on her fashion ideas, as that is what I found most interesting about her.

    toothy – There are some useful fashion history tidbits buried underneath all the honeyed words, so that plus of course the photos would probably be of interest to someone connected with fashion.

    Jenners – definitely a book for the eyes, not so much the mind.

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