Tag Archives: Fiction

Coco Chanel | The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie

I realize that from my previous post, I talked about writing a book review about Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Truth be told, I’m only halfway through because I’ve been meaning to finish the biography of one of the most iconic game changers of fashion that is Mademoiselle Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel.

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Now if you are not familiar with her, I’m going to link a few biographies that I’ve scampered through the net if you don’t have the time to read Justine Picardie’s book. But I do recommend buying this book to fashion enthusiasts, like myself, because Justine Picardie is the Einstein of Coco Chanel (only proclaimed by me). She knows everything there is to know about the designer.

My love affair with Chanel have only been recent, just as how I have been mesmerized by the glamour encompassed by the 1950’s to the 1960’s. Glamour can be found not only through fashion but to the women as well who made the difference just like Audrey Hepburn. I believe it was only at the brink of my junior year in college that I’ve been fascinated with Coco Chanel. I’ve told my friends a couple of times that if I were to describe how my life peg would be, it can be simplified into three sentences:

I want to be as successful as Anna Wintour. I want to age like Audrey Hepburn; and I want to be timeless like Coco Chanel.

– Cara Emmeline Garcia

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Coco Chanel is my peg whether in terms of fashion, beauty and glamour. My classmates always quipped that I am the “Top of mind brand” when it comes to Chanel and vice versa. Advertising jokes aside, I really am the nearest number 1 fan Coco Chanel has in the Philippines. I mean, who wouldn’t be amazed by her life?

Justine Picardie writes:

“The story of Chanel begins with an abandoned child, as lost as a girl in a dark fairy tale. Unveiling remarkable new details about Gabrielle Chane’s early years in a convent orphanage, and her flight into unconventional adulthood, Justine Picardie explores what lies beneath the glossy surface of a mythic fashion icon….

….feared and revered by the rest of the fashion industry, Coco Chanel died in 1971 at the age of eighty-seven. But her legacy lives on. Drawing upon her unprecedented access to the Chanel archive, Justine Picardie brings Gabrielle Chanel out of hiding and uncovers the consequences of what Chanel covered up, unpicking the seams between the truth and myth in a story that reveals the true heart of fashion.”

I purchased this book over a month ago to treat myself after Thesis and to pay homage to the great designer. I’ve always been fascinated with her life after the portrayal of Audrey Tautou on “Coco.” My parents and friends have grown to know recently that anything that has the word “Chanel” in it, or anything Chanel-inspired, I have to get it. I know, I’m gaga over Chanel.

I guess one of the reasons why I am in love with her is because of her willingness to become only herself. After reading this book, I realized how empowered Chanel is. She is very head strong on what she wants to achieve whether thru her clothes, her perfume, or her jewels. She always has a reason for everything and she’s willing to fight for what she wants in order to get it. She’s independent, straight forward. No wonder a lot of people during her time felt inferior!

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Another reason why I love Chanel is because of her wild imagination. Recently, I’ve procured a copy of Radiolab’s podcast. They were explaining that there was a study conducted that liars (per se) have more brain cells in their right side of the brain that their left, as well as they turn out to be more successful and happy in life than those of the realist. They became successful, not because they cheated on others, but they cheated on to themselves thru lying. They believed that little lie they tell themselves into thinking who they wanted to be and what they want to get. I know that lying isn’t the best example to use right now but I guess, Chanel is no exception to this study! Justine Picardie explained that there were times when Coco Chanel lied about her life, and making her past more colorful than how it should be. She painted over and over her past as if her life was a blank canvass and no one can ever know which was the truth. And the only thing that was for sure about Chanel was her work, and her work alone.

Timeless and effervescent. During the time when Chanel was reigning supreme, she changed the way women think of fashion. Long was the norm that women should wear corsets and voluptuous layers of gowns, tassels and cloths to feel beautiful. She changed that notion by paving way to shirts made out of jersey. Where women are no longer restricted and contrived. She knew that she wanted to revolutionize the women of the future by empowering them with men-inspired clothing such as pants, shorts, vests, and even the jackets that are still classic staples of today.

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The main thing I love about this book is that it gives us a detailed perspective of what Chanel really is. Despite her thick exterior, she really cares about the people around her most especially those who are close to her. I recalled how she said that family is the most important thing. She said, A simple life, with husband and children –  a life with the people you love – that is the real life.”  She also said, that, “A woman who is not loved is no woman. Whatever her age… A woman needs to be looked at by a man who  loves her. Without that look she dies.” Talk about romantic! Chanel speaks wisdom at everything! She’s like the grandma I’ve always wanted and she’s beyond comparison.

Another thing that I love about this book are the number of photos that we don’t normally see from the internet and the sketches made by the head designer of Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld as well as old sketches of Chanel herself. There are also intimate photos with the Duke of Westminster that are old polaroid photos of Chanel.

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Coco Chanel: Are you not tired of Chanel?
Karl Lagerfeld: No, only of the question.
Spoken like a true master. *imaginary conversation with Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld*

Overall, Justine Picardie gave us a literary glimpse of the life of Chanel. Its thorough story with the most impeccable concern to the most miniscule of detail gives us the knowledge of Chanel in the most intimate of ways. I’ll give it a 4 stars out of 5 because of the thorough research and interviews that Justine Picardie has to deal with. She truly is the Einstein of Coco Chanel. How I wish I was also that up close to Chanel like that.

I promise the next post will be To Kill a Mockingbird.

Love Always,

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Her biography can be viewed here.

Her works:

1. Inside Chanel – For the first time

2. Inside Chanel – Chanel and Marilyn Monroe

3. Inside Chanel – Chanel and the Diamond

4. Inside Chanel – Chanel and the jacket

Book Review: Life of Pi

Another month has passed and another book had been read! And this time, it is not a classical tale, but a relevant one. I’ve recently finished reading the book of, Life of Pi. If you are wondering if I had watched the movie then the book, No. I’ve read the book first and made sure I finished it before proceeding to the movie itself. On the side note, I would like to congratulate Ang Lee and the cast plus the crew who made “Life of Pi” possible! 4 Oscars and well-deserved at that!

Ang Lee recently won Best Director for his rendition of Life Of Pi
LOL. Yann Martel’s eyes just screams, “Guys, you have to read my book.”

Now before I get all giddy inside because the movie Life of Pi is just as awesome as the book itself, let us first of all acknowledge the author of the book, Mr. Yann Martel. I couldn’t think of a better way in showing God in his true colors than this book.

Anyhow, lets get on with the review.

I believe in the saying, “God transcends in different forms.” Miraculous events or not, God performs different miracles in life that is bigger than us. We often ask ourselves, “Why did God allow these things to happen to me?” whenever we face certain bumps and crossroads in life. It is nothing but human. If you’ve ever encountered during mass ceremonies that God answers you in different ways, either:

a. Yes, your wish is granted.

b. No. It’s not the time yet.

c. No. I have a better plan set out for you.

then you are no different from me nor Pi Patel.

Life of Pi is a fictional story that tells the journey of a boy who has many faiths, a 450-pound Bengal tiger, a life boat and the wide Pacific Ocean. Its extremely difficult for me to wrap the story in three words but I couldn’t find a perfect word to describe this book. I guess because it comes to you in so many different ways.

I was giving up. I would have given up – if a voice hadn’t made itself heard in my heart. The voice said, “I will not die. I refuse it. I will make it through this nightmare. I will beat the odds, as great as they are. I have survived so far, miraculously. Now I will turn miracle into routine. The amazing will be seen everyday. I will put in all the hard work necessary. Yes, so long as God is with me, I will not die. Amen.”

First, I believe this book tests your faith. It is very difficult to imagine a boy from India who goes to Canada together with his family will face an unfortunate event in the Pacific Ocean. You may call it lucky that among all the trained crews in the ship, it was only a boy who survived the shipwreck. Not only that, he survived living with a 450-pound Bengal Tiger. Now I don’t know anything about wild animals, but I believe they are called “wild” for a reason. It is certainly miraculous to be convinced in such a magnificent story. If ever I was Pi in that lifeboat, I would not bear the same strength as he did. Pi’s faith is incomparable to mine, I cannot contest his belief not only to the Hindu gods, but to God the Father as well as Allah. He was gifted with innumerable amounts of faith.

Life of Pi movie stilt.

Second, this book discusses an unlikely friendship that has a bitter ending. I love how even though Pi took care of Richard Parker (Bengal Tiger), Yann Martel gave it a certain twist that Richard Parker did not value the friendship he and Pi had while they were surviving in the lifeboat. I guess it was too cliche-ic to give such ending of the tiger and Pi living together more in the future. The twist in the end gave a little tickle to the mind on how such cruel being who became very lovable character as the story progresses can be so heartless (still) in the end. Now I know that a friendship with man and animal CAN happen, e.g. Jane Goodall and her chimpanzees as well as Dr. Janis and Lucy. I’ve heard countless stories of man and animal friendship from podcasts on RadioLab and its very intriguing how Yann Martel didn’t apply it in this book. Maybe he is trying to tell us that there are some friendships who really tend to grow apart as time progresses. It is not likely that happy endings happen to every story you read or experience, because it is part of the learning experience in life. There are really moments when you have to learn to let go and move on with your life. Just because there are some people who have stopped being there, the world does not along stop with them. You have to learn to keep moving forward with your life and keep going. There are bigger chances in the world, and a billion people to be friends with.

Lucy (the domesticated chimp) and Janis. I will link down their story below. It is a very touching story. You guys just have to read.

Third, this book has an incredible mixture of brutality, drama, as well as humor. I guess this is one of those books that you cannot let go after reading. I love how Yann Martel gave equality to the three words I gave. Brutality : Storm kills parents and almost everyone on board. Hyena kills zebra as well as orangutan. Tiger kills Hyena and Meerkats. I cannot describe how much my stomach turned and tumbled when reading about how the Hyena killed the Zebra. I have a terrible gift of imagination and so it is not surprising to me to visualize the brutality of the Hyena as he tries to feed on his preys. I was hoping it would have been as quick as how Richard Parker killed the Hyena. Drama: You cannot help but feel sad for Pi. I mean if I were in his shoes, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for myself as well. Everyone that I have loved, died and was left behind at the ship wreck. I guess, it just means that God truly has a ‘sole’ purpose for everyone. Humor: I smiled and laughed when Pi was discussing how his name was given, “Piscine Molitor” after the French swimming pool that was so clear you can actually drink it. I smiled when Pi was given the dilemma of actually choosing a religion. I mean most of us, when we were born we never question why we believe in God from the moment we were born. As if the ‘idea’ of God has been implanted in us when we were kids. Pi, asked questions and he got answers. Faith for him is wide and vast. I loved how he asked, “Why can’t I love all the gods?” I mean why can’t we? They are all but the same, and they serve the same purpose as The End of all Means. I also smiled when he was discussing how the tiger got his name Richard Parker, when supposedly he was supposed to get “Thirsty None Given”. But because of the idiotic man in customs who interchanged the name of the tiger with the hunter, the tiger got the name “Richard Parker” while the hunter got, “Thirsty None Given.”

Overall, I would give “Life of Pi” a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. It’s witty and charismatic character of Pi Patel is the kind of character you would look up to. Nevertheless, I admire how noble and courageous he was in keeping up with the tiger and surviving the vast waters of the Pacific Ocean. Yann Martel presented lovable characters with a polished story line that presented deeper values that is greater than any book I’ve ever read. It is truly a majestic book and is more than life. So after all of the Oscar buzz about Ang Lee, I guess you have to commend Yann Martel for creating a book that would and could inspire us all.

My next book will be: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (A Classic! I can’t wait!)

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*Lucy the Chimpanzee’s story can be read by clicking HERE.