Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

thescroll_header

Coco Not Cuckoo for Jews

New book says Chanel’s anti-Semitism was ingrained

Print Email
Coco Chanel in 1958.(STF/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s no news that the great French designer Coco Chanel was a Nazi sympathizer. This is frequently explained by the fact that she lived openly with the German intelligence analyst Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage in the Ritz during the occupation of Paris and that, as she herself put it, “Really, sir, a woman at my age cannot be expected to look at his passport if she has a chance for a lover.”

That’s not going to fly following revelations in a new book that Chanel’s Nazi sympathies, and more specifically her anti-Semitism, were as ingrained as her love for the little black dress. The new book apparently reports that Chanel was “fiercely anti-Semitic long before it became a question of pleasing the Germans. She became rich by catering to the very rich, and shared their dislike of Jews.” After the war, of course, France prosecuted her for directly participating in German spy operations did nothing about the fact that she was a German operative during the occupation.

Writing on the occasion of John Galliano’s recent Jewish problems, contributing editor Rachel Shukert hypothesized that high-end fashion intrinsically lends itself to anti-Semtism:

its integral philosophy is based on a principle of exclusivity. Fashionistas may indeed have a keen eye for beauty, but for many (and I shamefully include myself in this number) the true frisson comes less from an appreciation for innovative design or admiration for glorious craftsmanship than from the mean, malignant, but deeply satisfying sense of superiority in having a handbag that costs as much as an emergency appendectomy or being able to wriggle neatly into a sleek size 2 (or, more elusively, an Italian 38, since everyone knows how American designers are bullied into cutting generously for their vain customers). You are rich (or look like you are, which is almost as good); you are thin, and those are the two things that legendary fashion icon and notorious Nazi-sympathizer Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, said you can never be too much of, and therefore you are better, fancier, more deserving than the lumpen undesirables relegated to the downstairs cosmetics counter in the metaphorical department store of life.

New Book Says Coco Chanel Was ‘Fiercely’ Anti-Semitic [JPost]
Related: Fashion’s Fascists [Tablet Magazine]

Print Email

COMMENTING CHARGES
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at letters@tabletmag.com. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

2000

Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Coco Not Cuckoo for Jews

New book says Chanel’s anti-Semitism was ingrained

More on Tablet:

Why the World Should Test Netanyahu’s Newfound Commitment to Peace

By Yair Rosenberg — Bibi announces support for Arab Peace Initiative. It doesn’t matter if it’s real.