I think most people know who Coco Chanel is, even if all you know is she was a fashion designer. Jackie Kennedy was wearing Chanel when John was shot and Marilyn Monroe slept in nothing but Chanel No. 5… but did you know Coco Chanel was an antisemite who actually aided in the Nazi efforts during WWII?
I remember, vaguely, a TV movie on the subject but it escaped my memory until stumbling upon this biography.
Sleeping with the Enemy is a pretty straightforward biography- Chanel was dropped off at a convant after her mother died, as a young woman she met a rich boyfriend who helped finance her becoming a designer- but the middle portion is devoted to her time in the war. When she was a horrible person who helped her SS officer boyfriend with a few covert missions. She was never taken to trial, although she testified against some German… where she significantly downplayed her involvement.
There are a few throwaway lines about how she was raised as a devout Catholic who believed the Jews killed Jesus (so you know, ignorance) but then it mentions how she sold majority of her perfume business to a Jewish family AND THEN TRIED TO GET IT BACK DURING NAZI LAW. All in all, my final impression was to not be that impressed by Ms Chanel. Much like John Paul Gauiter’s antisemtic rants a few years ago and Dolce & Gabbana’s take on ‘synthetic children’ it left a bad taste in my mouth.