The life we lead

The life we lead

Portrait of gabrielle chanel

The woman who reads opens with a handwritten note by Gabrielle Chanel: «The life we lead always amounts to so little, the life we dream of, that’s the great existence because it continues on after our death». From a young age, Gabrielle Chanel made books her companions and as time went by what she read in her youth gave way to a distinct taste for literature and poetry that was aroused by her relationship with Arthur Capel who turned her into an erudite reader.

But, spending time with books is paradoxical: the silence of her reading that awakened her to the world, also allowed her to escape from it, to dream her destiny and construct herself by finding in these works so cherished by her, the strength and the means to write her own legend.

In Gabrielle Chanel’s apartment at 31 rue Cambon, the bookshelves of her library line the walls with the reassuring presence of the authors who would teach her how to construct and embody her life’s work. In a similar manner to the poets and writers she admired, Gabrielle Chanel managed to impose a vocabulary and a style, and eventually made a novel out of her own life.