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The famous designer turned to privileged life as a mistress, lived with some of the richest men in Europe and traveled among their luxury estates

Legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel reigned in the haute couture of Paris for almost six decades, but felt bitter about her childhood after her father left her in 1895 at the age of 12 in an orphanage in central France when her mother succumbed to tuberculosis.

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Called Gabrielle Chasnel by the sadistic nuns – later changed to Chanel – the young girl was not prepared to accept an impoverished future without benefactor and no dowry.

Chanel quickly learned that upper class gentlemen could give her a better life and introduce her to society, writes author Caroline Young in her new book Living with Coco Chanel.

A life of privilege as a mistress living together with some of the richest men in Europe becomes the lifestyle of Chanel, travels between their luxury estates and spends hours of fox hunting, playing polo, even salmon fishing.

The men who chased Chanel paved the way for her in the high society of Paris, introduced her to artists, authors and socialites, and laid the foundation for her to launch her legendary fashion house that is still revered.

The famous designer turned to privileged life as a mistress, lived with some of the richest men in Europe and traveled among their luxury estates

The famous designer turned to privileged life as a mistress, lived with some of the richest men in Europe and traveled among their luxury estates

Coco in the lavender fields at her home, Villa La Pausa in Roquebrune, in the French Riviera, with her dog, Gigot in 1930
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Coco in the lavender fields at her home, Villa La Pausa in Roquebrune, in the French Riviera, with her dog, Gigot in 1930

Coco in the lavender fields at her home, Villa La Pausa in Roquebrune, in the French Riviera, with her dog, Gigot in 1930

Along with a passion for dust, horses and rich influential men, she developed a passion and addiction to morphine when she lived with a German officer at the Ritz Hotel in Paris after the Nazis moved to the US in the early 1940s. Capitol moved.

She broke all rules as a & # 39; horizontal employee & # 39; with the enemy.

& # 39; Paris had a notorious system of prostitution in the belle epoch era and it inhabited the world of the demimonde. There were countless names for courtesans – cocotte, camellia and diamond cutters, women could get jewels from rich admirers, "writes the author.

These were women who were considered on the edge of respectable society.

Chanel quickly learned that gentlemen from the higher class could give her a better life and introduce her to society, writes author Caroline Young in her new book Living with Coco Chanel: The Homes and Landscapes that Shaped the Designer

Chanel quickly learned that gentlemen from the higher class could give her a better life and introduce her to society, writes author Caroline Young in her new book Living with Coco Chanel: The Homes and Landscapes that Shaped the Designer

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Chanel quickly learned that gentlemen from the higher class could give her a better life and introduce her to society, writes author Caroline Young in her new book Living with Coco Chanel: The Homes and Landscapes that Shaped the Designer

After failing to impress the military officers with her singing in the cafes where she was named Coco after a popular tune she sang, Chanel knew that a singing career was not in her future.

So she started a relationship with an impetuous and rich officer, Etienne Balsan, who already had a very beautiful mistress.

& # 39; Chanel knew she would have trouble getting married well without dowry, but maybe Etienne could be a benefactor & # 39 ;, writes the author.

She voluntarily became his second mistress and moved to his castle in Royallieu, northeast of Paris, when he devoted himself to horse racing.

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She often ate with the servants while Etienne and his first mistress ate upstairs. She didn't care. She loved galloping through the forest on horseback, but also lounging on the terrace and scanning the race results at breakfast and coffee.

& # 39; She would be in bed until noon, drinking coffee and milk and reading cheap novels & # 39 ;, writes Caroline Young.

Laziness, trips to the races and chic parties made her boredom complete.

It would be the first of many such contacts – living together with the richest men in Europe and never getting married.

& # 39; Coco has always been impressed by money and titles.

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& # 39; She, who overcame all barriers of life, was ashamed of her roots … and tried hard to hide her origins & # 39 ;, her friend Lady Iya Abdy is quoted.

After printing on Etienne for his help in starting her clothing design company, he offered Coco his Paris apartment as the basis for selling straw hats she had bought in a Paris department store and decorated with ribbons and hats – very different from the ones worn straw hat style of the day with a bird's nest on it.

When the first mistress of the house wore one on the circuit, Chanel's hats became a hit.

Spending autumn with Etienne on a 13th century castle in the French Pyrenees, where they hunted and played polo, she borrowed men's clothing – a shirt with a knitted tie, a simple hat, even breeches from a groom so she didn't have to ride a horse .

Coco started a relationship with an impetuous and rich officer, Etienne Balsan, who already had a very beautiful mistress. & # 39; Chanel knew she would have trouble getting married well without dowry, but maybe Etienne could be a benefactor & # 39 ;, writes the author

Coco started a relationship with an impetuous and rich officer, Etienne Balsan, who already had a very beautiful mistress. & # 39; Chanel knew she would have trouble getting married well without dowry, but maybe Etienne could be a benefactor & # 39 ;, writes the author

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Coco started a relationship with an impetuous and rich officer, Etienne Balsan, who already had a very beautiful mistress. & # 39; Chanel knew she would have trouble getting married well without dowry, but maybe Etienne could be a benefactor & # 39 ;, writes the author

The castle in Royallieu, owned by Etienne Balsan before the First World War, and located in Parc de Bayser, spend the fall with Etienne in the 13th-century castle in the French Pyrenees where they hunted and played polo

The castle in Royallieu, owned by Etienne Balsan before the First World War, and located in Parc de Bayser, spend the fall with Etienne in the 13th-century castle in the French Pyrenees where they hunted and played polo

The castle in Royallieu, owned by Etienne Balsan before the First World War, and located in Parc de Bayser, spend the fall with Etienne in the 13th-century castle in the French Pyrenees where they hunted and played polo

She wore men's jackets and an Etienne shirt and tie that she had cut out.

It was in the Pyrenees that she first started Arthur & # 39; Boy & # 39; Capel met a real dandy and the only man she knew she ever loved.

& # 39; Handsome, very tanned and attractive … he was beautiful.

& # 39; I admired his casualness and his green eyes. He rode bold and very powerful horses. I fell in love with him. I never loved & # 39 ;, said Chanel.

A wealthy entrepreneur, playboy and gluttonous reader, & # 39; Boy was swept away by the charm of Chanel & # 39 ;.

Back in Paris, Chanel opened her hat shop in Etienne's apartment and Capel helped her with a bank account and taught her to drive.

Both Etienne and Capel were in love with her.

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Capel helped her with money to rent a shop at 21 Cambon Street in the heart of the Paris fashion district and introduced her to artists, writers, politicians and sportsmen, but also to society's ladies.

Coco and her beloved Arthur & # 39; Boy & # 39; Capel on the beach in Saint Jean de Luz in 1917

Coco and her beloved Arthur & # 39; Boy & # 39; Capel on the beach in Saint Jean de Luz in 1917

Coco and her beloved Arthur & # 39; Boy & # 39; Capel on the beach in Saint Jean de Luz in 1917

Coco Chanel's beloved Arthur Boy Capel

Coco Chanel's beloved Arthur Boy Capel

Chanel shared an apartment with Boy Capel on a quiet tree-lined avenue Gabriel, on the Jardin des Champs-Élysées.

Chanel shared an apartment with Boy Capel on a quiet tree-lined avenue Gabriel, on the Jardin des Champs-Élysées.

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Chanel shared an apartment with Boy Capel on a quiet tree-lined avenue Gabriel, along the Jardin des Champs-Élysées

Boy was in love with Chanel and continued to see other women, but took her to Deauville on the Normandy coast, where the rich played in August.

There she modeled her new line of beachwear that offered a relaxed silhouette – & # 39; long and roomy jackets with large pockets & # 39; – worker-style bags designed to free women from handbags.

Capel encouraged and financed Chanel to open a boutique near Normandy, the casino and the beach.

& # 39; I became something of a celebrity. I started a fashion couturiers like stars. Everyone wanted to meet me & # 39 ;.

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She designed a new relaxed silhouette in contrast to the restrictive corsets of the day and replaced expensive Chinchilla from South America or sable from Russia with rabbit.

Chanel used jersey that looked like a & # 39; poor & # 39; fabric was considered too scratchy.

Extremely successful, it liberated women's bodies by not tightening the waist.

As much as Boy was in love with Chanel, he had to marry well and chose Lady Diana Wyndham, a war widow, but he wanted Chanel to remain his mistress.

She left his house, but they remained lovers.

His last visit to her was Christmas 1919 before driving to the French Riviera overnight to spend the holidays with his sister.

He never made it. He died immediately in a horrible car accident when a tire blew up.

A friend of Boy brought the news to Chanel and she packed a small bag and left for the Riviera, where she sat on the side of the road at the accident site and cried.

Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich became lovers of Coco and gave her the beautiful Romanov pearls and precious stones that he brought from Russia.

Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich became lovers of Coco and gave her the beautiful Romanov pearls and precious stones that he brought from Russia.

Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich became lovers of Coco and gave her the beautiful Romanov pearls and precious stones that he brought from Russia.

& # 39; By losing Cape, I lost everything & # 39 ;, Chanel said.

Chanel returned to Paris and surrounded herself with the well-connected people and found new friends from the city's highest circles who could connect her with society.

She kept a room at the Ritz Hotel, but had painted her bedroom from the rented house that served as a love nest with Capel black.

Still a beautiful woman, she was quickly in circulation again and connected with Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich, who escaped Russia when the Bolsheviks killed his family in 1918.

They became lovers and he gave her the beautiful Romanov pearls and precious stones that he brought from Russia.

A pearl necklace with thirty-two strings formed her love for pearl cords, gold-plated chains and crosses and she set up jewelry workshops.

Chanel found himself in the middle of Bohemian society with artists, musicians, writers including writer Jean Cocteau and Pablo Picasso.

Boy had introduced her to the rules of society and a sense of style, but when she took on Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster, she was strongly influenced by how British aristocrats dressed, and learned the British customs of afternoon tea , outdoor sports, cold mansions and dressing for the seasons.

Coco with Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster at Chester Races. with Grosvenor she was strongly influenced by how British aristocrats dressed, and learned the British customs of afternoon tea, outdoor sports, cold mansions and clothing for the seasons

Coco with Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster at Chester Races. with Grosvenor she was strongly influenced by how British aristocrats dressed, and learned the British customs of afternoon tea, outdoor sports, cold mansions and clothing for the seasons

Coco with Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster at Chester Races. with Grosvenor she was strongly influenced by how British aristocrats dressed, and learned the British customs of afternoon tea, outdoor sports, cold mansions and clothing for the seasons

Tweed jackets that had been passed on for generations, polished shoes, hunting clothes and pressed staff uniforms impressed her.

She told Westminster that he was elegant but never had anything new.

& # 39; He has been wearing the same jackets for 25 years & # 39 ;.

Grosvenor was the richest man in Britain and perhaps Europe, lived a life of wealth and was good friends with Churchill.

He was desperate to see Chanel again after meeting her, under the impression that she was a homemade woman.

& # 39; Westminster liked me because I was French & # 39 ;, Chanel said. & # 39; English women are possessive and cold. Men get bored with them & # 39 ;.

He soon flooded her apartment with orchids, camellias, fruit baskets, fresh salmon from his rivers in Scotland.

A box of fresh vegetables from his farm in Cheshire had a large raw emerald among the vegetables in a velvet box.

& # 39; He was so rich that he had completely forgotten & # 39 ;, Coco said.

In his Gothic mansion in the Cheshire countryside, armor flanked a huge staircase. Ten maids have maintained and cleaned up the estate after the Duke's Dachshunds. Thirty-eight gardeners took care of the site.

Chanel was avant-garde and the duke was an old world, but he loved her strength, her sporting skills, and her driving skills.

She accompanied him for the boar hunt in his country house on the French Atlantic coast and raved about the sweet scent of the genital organs of the male swine after the murder of which the best perfumes were made.

Chanel in 1910, dressed in a beautiful white satin dress, the favorite fabric for draping in her apartment in avenue Gabriel

Chanel in 1910, dressed in a beautiful white satin dress, the favorite fabric for draping in her apartment in avenue Gabriel

Chanel in 1910, dressed in a beautiful white satin dress, the favorite fabric for draping in her apartment in avenue Gabriel

In the Highlands with the Duke, Chanel, who still wore masculine clothing, borrowed the Duke's jackets.

Westminster wanted an heir, but Coco couldn't get pregnant.

& God knows I wanted love. But the moment I had to choose between the man I loved and my dresses, I chose the dresses &, said Chanel.

& # 39; Work has always been a kind of medicine to me, even if I sometimes wonder what Chanel would have been without the men in my life. & # 39;

When the duke married another woman, Chanel confessed that she bored & # 39; the outrageous, carefree way of life & # 39 ;.

The Wall Street Crash of 1929 saw bartabs run dry in New York and Paris and designers went bankrupt due to unpaid purchases of dresses bought on credit.

In 1931 Chanel had 2,400 employees in twenty-six studios at 400 for two shows per year.

Chanel could not sketch and did not like sewing. When a piece of a sketch was wrong, & # 39; she was able to produce and kill a stream of uncompromising words with one fiery glance of contempt & # 39 ;, writes the author.

But she was immensely rich now, made even richer by the success of Chanel No. 5 perfume.

With that money she bought a moat in Normandy for the hunting of pigs, the home of writer Colette in France and an apartment in Venice – to add to her collection of properties.

When the war broke out in September 1939, Chanel was at the Ritz and closed her fashion house, but kept the shop on rue Cambon open to sell her perfumes and jewelry.

She moved permanently to the Ritz in 1935 and briefly left for her home in the Pyrenees when the Germans hurried to Paris.

Hiding in the mountains turned out to be quiet and she returned to the Ritz and started an affair with a tall, blond German officer, Hans Gunther, Baron von Dincklage, thirteen years younger.

Hiding in the mountains turned out to be quiet and she returned to the Ritz and started an affair with a tall, blond German officer, Hans Gunther, Baron von Dincklage, thirteen years younger

Hiding in the mountains turned out to be quiet and she returned to the Ritz and started an affair with a tall, blond German officer, Hans Gunther, Baron von Dincklage, thirteen years younger

Hiding in the mountains turned out to be quiet and she returned to the Ritz and started an affair with a tall, blond German officer, Hans Gunther, Baron von Dincklage, thirteen years younger

They sneaked through the back door but never escaped attention along with Chanel's addiction to morphine.

In August 1944 she was interrogated by les Forces francaises de l & # 39; interior for cooperation with the enemy.

Typical punishment was for shaving their heads and marking swastikas on their foreheads, imprisonments, and even execution.

Questioned for several hours, Chanel was released after what was reported as an intervention by Winston Churchill.

She was arrested in September 1944, found guilty of treason and sentenced to eighteen months in prison.

That was considered a light punishment for such fiery feelings of betrayal in liberated Paris.

She tried to protect herself and offered free bottles of Chanel No. 5 perfume for US troops to send home.

But her role as & # 39; horizontal employee & # 39; left her boutique empty.

Asked by journalist Malcolm Muggeridge which side she was in during the war, she replied: & neither, of course. & # 39; No one has ever told Coco Chanel what to think & # 39 ;.

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