3.07.2011

40 - Life During Wartime or Girl Scouts of the Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland or Why Coco Chanel is Just Awful

It's all vintage, except for the boots, which I got for $30 in Santee Alley, and the jewelry, which is Konstantino and totally random flea market finds.

I thought that this look was very post-apocalyptic-frontier-girlscout-still-on-a-mission-to-deliver-her-cookies.  It's something about the combination of the shorts and the hat. The hat is a hand-me-down from my mother. The shorts were originally pants, picked up at the Jetrag $1 sale. I love the military button pocket detail and the red contrast piping. I picked up these super-crazy-soft knee-highs from Lemon Frog Vintage. It's an adorable store packed full of good finds. The store is divided in thirds, with the front section under $50, the second section over $50, and the very back for rental and collection. I never have a chance to really explore in as much detail as I'd like, but there is a carpet bag there that I have been eying for quite some time. 

Since there is something vaguely WWII-era about this ensemble, I thought it might be a good opportunity to have a little discussion about Coco Chanel. In the light of the recent John Galliano upset, I find it necessary to explore the legacy of Chanel in conjunction with her questionable concept of morality and assumed anti-semitism. It is interesting that someone can become a fashion icon despite many acts of great social opportunism. It is widely known that Coco Chanel was a social scavenger, using her feminine charms to work her way from an orphanage to a position of respect, eventually opening up her first millinery shop. However, I wonder if it is not widely known that during WWII, Coco Chanel was entangled with the Nazi regime, intimately so with Nazi officer Hans Gunther von Dincklage? The two lived together as lovers at the Paris Ritz when the Nazis invaded Paris. The Ritz was a popular place for prominent Nazi officers to live, and von Dincklage arranged for Chanel's accommodations. When the Nazis seized all Jewish-owned businesses and properties, Chanel took the opportunity to claim the right to all income generated by her signature licensed perfumes, the profits of which had previously belonged to Jewish parfumiers the Wertheimers, by arguing that the Jews should not have ownership of the assets...you know, on account of their Jew-iness. She made a large sum of money off of this claim. Later, she was involved in a rather elaborate Nazi spy attempt. When the war ended, Chanel was charged as a Nazi collaborator, a crime for which she avoided penalty because the British Royal family intervened. However, due to her collaborations with the Nazis, Chanel's work had lost all merit with the Parisians, and it was only in America that her designs found success. I can only guess that this is because the Americans, who had previously paid little attention to Chanel, were not readily aware of her dubious political associations. At any rate, I think it's important that people consider this background before praising Coco Chanel and the House of Chanel as laudable icons of contemporary fashion. While Lagerfeld has done wonders to grow the brand, a history so rich in disgusting opportunism really ought not be discarded.

In homage to the anthropological spirit of fashion, I've found a few things that speak to me about western military history, the effects of which have been permanently integrated into contemporary western culture (including fashion).

These Karen Walker sunglasses are a rather intense version of the infamous John Lennon sunglasses. These sunglasses seem forever linked to Lennon in my mind, and thus have become an iconic marker of anti-war demonstration and celebrity socio-political influence.

These Proenza Schouler sunglasses are a contemporary twist on the Lennon shades of the past.


This ensemble from the Dear Creatures lookbook has a 1940s glam meets utilitarian aura. This practical apparel mixed with 1940s fashion reminds me of the Rosie the Riveter call for women to step up in the workplace (coveralls and lipstick) while the men were away fighting, a monumental step towards gender equality. Yeah...we're still working on it.

This is just a picture of Debbie Harry dressed up like a girl scout. I think it was for a Sesame Street appearance. She is a mega-babe. I could push for a political connotation, but there really isn't one.

This is the Talking Heads performing Life During Wartime from the Stop Making Sense video -- this is my favorite live recording of all time!

13 comments:

  1. Interesting post... really liked it a lot

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  2. Dude, I am so relieved to have found your blog amongst the many, many style blogs out there. Because your style is cool plus you're intelligent! And asking difficult questions! Unlike countless others posting about their weekend thrift trip and brunch with their boyfriend blah blah blah...

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  3. this is really interesting ! I really did not know that about Chanel, wow.

    Great read :]

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  4. Ew you taught me something today!
    Way to sneak that in there.

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  5. Well, I've got many to say so let's take it with the safe method of counting :P

    1. I love very much your outfit (not a surprise :P) You're absolutely right about the shorts, the little details make them PERFECT!!!! And your rings are so gorgeous! <3 Amazing boots, socks and turban too! You always look hooot girl! :D

    2. Are you fucking serious about Coco Chanel???? WOW!! These are news! This story proves for 100000th time that we should neverever judge a person from their image. Our background is obviously very inportant. I wonder though if all these 'fashionistas' who pray to Coco, instead of God, know this story... I think that it should be really known, but I guess that we can easily hide the black parts...

    3. I love the Karen Walker sunglasses. You wanna make a statement, get these awesome sunnies. Gorgeous pic of Debbie Harry, too. And oh girl, this is THE song! I adoore it! Probably one of my most faves ever!

    Great post! I totally agree with the girl above, who said that you're different from other bloggers. In fact, you're one of the few bloggers that truly ROCK!

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  6. OMG The Talking Heads ♥

    Also have you read "The War" by Marguerite Duras? The best autobiography-meets-fiction writing about WWII. About as tragic as the Life During Wartime video is fun, but equally amazing.

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  7. Great post. It's a shame that many people don't realize these truths about not only Chanel, but other contemporary designers who've gone on to openly spew racist remarks about who they don't make their clothes for (ex. Tommy Hilfiger, Gloria Vanderbilt, etc.).

    I really enjoy your blog, by the way. I've lived in California for 18 years and I currently live in Brooklyn, NY. I look at your pictures and I get all nostalgic...and awesome jewelry collection!

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  8. Holy shit. I can't believe I was unaware of Coco Chanel's completely awful biography. I have never found her all that interesting, therefore avoiding the many, many movies that have been made about her life- but I really wonder how they manage to gloss over something as horrifying as NAZISM when making all these films about her.

    Wow- looks like Coco gets to join the ranks of BMW, Krups, and good old Charles Lindbergh. Yet another icon with Nazi ties that have been very well-hidden.

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  9. I have never really been much of a Galliano girl, nor a fan of Coco Chanel, even though I like Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel quite a bit. But it's more Karl's Chanel that I like, not Chanel in and of itself. This was interesting to read, I also wasn't fully aware. I love those shorts and your hat. I need some green shorts like that.

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  10. I've recently been following your blog and I got to say it! this piece was just fucking awesome!! There is nothing else I can say that hasn't already been mentioned above and keep up the good work!

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