Monday Morning Musings

This past weekend was a quiet one for me. I stayed home Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and got a lot of little bits of business taken care of; fixing some of the pages here on the new site, writing press releases, ordering more books, updating information for the theatre, arranging for guest bloggers here, as well as some guest posts I had to write. And I took two naps. Sometimes we just have to take a nap.

How was your weekend?

This has nothing at all to do with the post today, I just wanted to share a picture I took of an unusual mushroom that I saw in my yard one day.

What I’m reading: The Wood Beyond by Reginald Hill. This is my first book by that author – he has written many – and I’m enjoying it so far. It’s set in England, and it’s been a while since I’ve read English literature. The differences in language and culture and idioms is always fascinating, and I delight in those differences. I belong to an online mystery reading group 4 Mystery Addicts, and I am leading the discussion for this title.

Celebrating Strong Women: Today I would like to thank Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel for the changes she made to women’s fashions following World War I. She is credited, along with Paul Poiret, for  popularizing the acceptance of a sportive, casual chic as the feminine standard to replace the stiff, corseted styles that were widely thought of as proper.

The French fashion designer and founder of the Chanel brand was born in 1883 and died in 1971. Her designs included clothing, jewelry, handbags and fragrances, and her signature scent, Chanel No. 5, has become an iconic product.

Chanel was known for her lifelong determination, ambition, and energy which she applied to her professional and social life. She achieved both success as a businesswoman and in social prominence and was a patron to many artists.

At the age twenty-three, Chanel became Étienne Balsan’s mistress,  For the next three years, she lived with him in his chateau Royallieu near Compiègne  It was a life style of self-indulgence and  Balsan lavished Chanel with the beauties of “the rich life”—diamonds, dresses, and pearls.

In 1908, Chanel began an affair with one of Balsan’s friends, Arthur Edward  Capel, a wealthy member of the English upper class. He provided an apartment in Paris for Chanel and financed her first shops. It is said that Capel’s style influenced the Chanel look, and the bottle design for Chanel No. 5 is  attributed to his sophisticated design sensibilities.

Through the years Chanel was the mistress of several influential men, but she never married. She had significant relationships with the poet Pierre Reverdy and the illustrator and designer Paul Iribe. After her romance with Reverdy ended in 1926, they still maintained a friendship that lasted some forty years.

While there are parts of her life that are not admirable – most notably her association with Nazis during World War II – Chanel’s contributions to clothing design most certainly are. In one interview she was quoted as saying, “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.” That was the foundation of her approach to women’s fashions when she moved away from designs that relied on corsets and padding.

Her  views on fashion and luxury still influence the world of design, even though they were considered so radical at the time.

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