The new book by Chiara Pasqualetti Johnson, “Coco Chanel: Revolutionary Woman“, is out now. Read our interview to the writer to discover more about this new volume!
“Coco Chanel: Revolutionary Woman“, “Coco Chanel – La rivoluzione dello stile“, in italian, is the new volume by Chiara Pasqualetti Johnson. After her previous book “The Most Influential Women of Our Time” (2018), she returns with another work focused on women, one in particular: Coco Chanel.
Coco Chanel, born in 1883 in France, is one of the most famous fashion designer in the world. She has revolutionized the world of fashion of that time with its flawless taste and she became a timeless style icon recognized all over the world.
This volume is published exactly fifty years after her death and one hundred years after the birth of the legendary Chanel n°5. The book will be available in three languages: italian, english and german.
Full of vintage photographs, illustrations and drawings, this precious volume celebrates the figure of an extraordinary woman: from her difficult childhood to her brilliant intuitions.
Chiara Pasqualetti is a magazine journalist who has also edited books and series on the history of modern and contemporary art. Read the interview to discover more about her and her work!
QUESTIONS FOR CHIARA PASQUALETTI
- Hi Chiara, thank you for this opportunity. Would you like to tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
- Your works are particularly focused on female figures: why this choice?
- Let’s talk about your new volume “Coco Chanel – La rivoluzione dello stile“: can you tell us how this project was born?
- Where does your interest in this character come from?
- How was the retrieval of vintage photographs, illustrations and drawings structured?
- What are you most passionate about this great fashion icon?
- Is Coco Chanel still a current character?
- How do you think Coco Chanel changed the fashion world?
- Coco Chanel and the society of the time: how was this relationship?
- Is there any unknown aspect of Coco Chanel that emerges with your work?
#1. Hi Chiara, thank you for this opportunity. Would you like to tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
After graduating in art history, I became a journalist. For years I have interviewed artists and visited exhibitions almost everywhere, expanding my interest in travel and signing reports from all over the world for the ‘Dove’ magazine, but also articles on the wonders of our country for magazines such as ‘Bell Italia’.
Far or near it is, over time I realized that, after all, what I’m looking for is always beauty. Whether it’s a painting, a sunset on the shores of the ocean, a graffiti left by the aborigines on a rock in Australia or the work of a craftsman found in the alleys of an Italian village. Two years ago I published my first book and now I am working as a writer alongside my journalist activity. When I’m not travelling, I live in Milan, with my husband and my two children.
#2. Your works are particularly focused on female figures: why this choice?
The road to emancipation for women has been an uphill battle. And I think there is still a long way to go. This is why I believe that the example of the great female figures who have marked this path serves as a guide to arrive as soon as possible at absolute parity that I still see far away in many areas.
My first book, released in 2018 with the White Star publisher, is entitled “Portraits of great women of our time” and brings together the stories of 50 inspiring female figures. From Rosa Parks to Eva Perón, Mata Hari, Peggy Guggenheim, Estée Lauder, Grace Kelly, Zaha Hadid, Malala Yousafzai and many others. I wrote it in Italian, but it became a bestseller translated into 10 languages, from English to Japanese.
#3. Let’s talk about your new volume “Coco Chanel – La rivoluzione dello stile”: can you tell us how this project was born?
Coco Chanel was one of the protagonists of my first book. But she has such an incredible story that she deserved one only for her own. 2021, after all, is the year of Chanel. The fiftieth anniversary of her death was celebrated on 9 January but, above all, we celebrate the first 100 years of her most famous creation, the perfume of the century: Chanel N° 5. The book was released in Italian and German, the English edition will also be published.
#4. Where does your interest in this character come from?
She is an icon, yet few know her history thoroughly. I was enchanted by a life as extraordinary as hers. And by tracing her biography a little, I felt like writing a novel. Her life begins in an orphanage, where little Chanel is abandoned, and ends with her coronation as queen of haute couture, after an endless series of twists.
#5. How was the retrieval of vintage photographs, illustrations and drawings structured?
Together with the publisher White Star, we imagined this book as an illustrated biography that brings together 150 images, from portraits taken by famous photographers such as Cartier-Bresson and Man Ray to snapshots that immortalize her on vacation or with artist friends, such as Picasso and Cocteau. Coco Chanel was one of the most photographed people of her time, the challenge was being able to mix famous shots with other ones less known.
#6. What are you most passionate about this great fashion icon?
She was a determined woman, with a reverence for a job well done. Her esteem for for the artisans who collaborated on Chanel creations went hand in hand with the maniacal care she put into each garment. But at the same time she was also incredibly nonconformist.
#7. Is Coco Chanel still a current character?
Of course. She has sewn on her destiny as if she were a dress. Life has given her nothing and the results she achieved are the demonstration that success is not improvised, but is cultivated with discipline, study and passion: a rule that Coco Chanel has always followed with dedication, putting passion for what she did first, but also always aware of wanting to achieve economic independence.
Today as then, I believe that these are fundamental values in the life of every woman who wants to be fulfilled also through work.
#8. How do you think Coco Chanel changed the fashion world?
She never called herself a feminist, yet she revolutionized the concept of femininity forever. She represented and dressed a new generation of women, the first to drive a car, to claim the right to vote and to work in areas that had previously been considered only suitable for men. Women needed comfortable clothes, but at the same time these clothes had to be able to make them feel elegant and feminine.
Chanel frees them from corsets and crinolines, making them feel sexy and chic even when they wear the tweed trousers or jackets that she steals from the male wardrobe to transform them into timeless garments, still very current today.
#9. Coco Chanel and the society of the time: how was this relationship?
Chanel fully embodies the spirit of her era and her life runs parallel to the history of the twentieth century. She sets out to conquer the world in the roaring twenties, when everything seemed possible.
She lives the uncertainties of the thirties, overcoming the great depression with brilliant intuitions, then she succumbs to the adversities of the Second World War, deciding to close her business.
But in the fifties, now in her seventies, she got back into the game, influenced by the extraordinary energy of that decade. She reopens the Chanel maison and returns to the catwalk giving women new icons, such as the bouclé wool suit or the quilted leather bag, still in production today. But also the two-tone beige and black shoes open on the heel, to make the foot appear smaller and slim the leg.
#10. Is there any unknown aspect of Coco Chanel that emerges with your work?
Her activity as a theatrical costume designer, little known but extraordinary. In the thirties she collaborated with the famous Ballets Russes. They were extraordinary shows, with subjects signed by authors such as Cocteau and curtains designed by Picasso. The stage costumes could only belong to the revolutionary queen of haute couture: Mademoiselle Chanel. Today they are exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
We want to thank Chiara Pasqualetti for her time and her kindness, and also for letting us enter the world of Coco Chanel.
If you want to keep up to date about Chiara and her activities you can follow her online channels: