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How not to be disgusting

Anne Hollander, 6 December 1990

Coco Chanel: A Biography 
by Axel Madsen.
Bloomsbury, 388 pp., £20, October 1990, 0 7475 0762 7
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... a star, the very first in her field. As such, she has inspired several star-biographies, of which Madsen’s is the latest. The biographies of Chanel that were attempted during her lifetime had to be given up, because interviewing her proved so exasperating. She provided so much conflicting material that it became clear she was perpetually lying about her own ...

Trips

Graham Coster, 26 July 1990

In Xanadu: A Quest 
by William Dalrymple.
Collins, 314 pp., £14.95, July 1989, 0 00 217948 2
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The Gunpowder Gardens 
by Jason Goodwin.
Chatto, 230 pp., £14.95, March 1990, 0 7011 3620 0
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Silk Roads: The Asian Adventures of André and Clara Malraux 
by Axel Madsen.
Tauris, 299 pp., £14.95, April 1990, 1 85043 209 0
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At Home and Abroad 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Chatto, 332 pp., £14.95, February 1990, 0 7011 3620 0
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Great Plains 
by Ian Frazier.
Faber, 290 pp., £14.99, March 1990, 0 571 14260 5
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... failing in Dalrymple and Goodwin when set against the extraordinary egocentricity on show in Axel Madsen’s travel-biography of André Malraux and his ‘Asian adventures’, Silk Roads. In later life Malraux acquired an ungainsayable reputation for political courage, generosity and civic altruism. Here, in these travels in Cambodia and Vietnam ...

Why are you so fat?

Bee Wilson: Coco Chanel, 7 January 2010

Perfumes: The A-Z Guide 
by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez.
Profile, 620 pp., £12.99, October 2009, 978 1 84668 127 1
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Chanel: Her Life, Her World, The Woman behind the Legend 
by Edmonde Charles-Roux, translated by Nancy Amphoux.
MacLehose, 428 pp., £14.99, June 2009, 978 1 906694 24 1
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The Allure of Chanel 
by Paul Morand, translated by Euan Cameron.
Pushkin, 181 pp., £12, September 2009, 978 1 901285 98 7
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Coco before Chanel 
directed by Anne Fontaine.
July 2009
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... Hollywood. In 1931, she did the frocks for Tonight or Never, starring Gloria Swanson. According to Axel Madsen’s biography of Chanel, which drew on Swanson’s recollections, she was appalled by Swanson’s figure. When Swanson came to Chanel’s premises in the rue Cambon for her first fitting, Coco remarked that she was on the chubby side and asked ...

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