An Illustrated Biography of Coco Chanel

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Photo: Nina Cosford

In an imaginative new biography of Coco Chanel, illustrator Nina Cosford traces the designer’s astonishing life from convent orphanage to 31 Rue Cambon. You know the story: Née Gabrielle Chanel, Coco earned her nickname while singing in Parisian café concerts between billed acts. (Her signature song: “Qui qu’a vu Coco?”) Her life reads like an epic novel, from tormented love triangles to fatal car crashes and affairs with the likes of PicassoDalí, and Stravinsky. Her forward-thinking designs changed the industry forever.

The book Library of Luminaries: Coco Chanel: An Illustrated Biography, out August 16 from Chronicle Books, narrates her life with sumptuous drawings by Cosford, text by Zena Alkayat, and excerpts from Chanel’s own letters and diaries.

Click ahead for a delicate glimpse into Chanel’s life — her early hat designs, the opening of her first store, and fishing ventures with Winston Churchill.