Coco Chanel 8.1分
读书笔记 The Double C

But for all the outward success of her designs – and the impeccable surface that she presented to the outside world – inside, something was troubling her. ‘I often fainted,’ she told Haedrich, recalling a day at the racetrack when she had collapsed three times. ‘I had too much emotion, too much excitement, I lived too intensely. My nerves couldn’t stand it. And all at once … I was standing beside a gentleman who had a horse running. Suddenly I had the feeling he was slipping away from me, fast. What a terrible feeling. I fell to the ground, thinking, this is it, it’s all over.’

She did not name the gentleman slipping away from her; but if she did fear the loss of Boy Capel (her lover who was also ‘my brother, my father, my whole family’), it may have contributed to her sense of overwhelming emotion. ‘Several times I’d been brought home unconscious,’she said to Haedrich. ‘These weren’t any hysterical woman’s swoons. I fell down, my eyes turned black …I was taken for dead.’Chanel returned to these episodes again and again in her conversations with Haedrich. ‘They talk to me about attacks of nerves,’she said (without specifying who ‘they’might be). ‘For two years I couldn’t cross a street or go into a church. So I stopped going to Mass …’Yet whatever the true cause of her dread and anxiety, she believed that Capel had a miraculous ability to heal her: ‘Boy Capel cured me, with exceptional patience, simply by repeating: “Faint if you want to.”He took me wherever there were people, and said: “I’m here. Nothing can happen to you. Faint while I’m here.”’But he wasn’t always there; he came and went; he appeared and disappeared. When she worked, she said, her health recovered; and although she never admitted it, the House of Chanel seemed to give her more stability –a sense of where she stood in the world –than she gained from Boy Capel. Hence the story she often told of her distress at discovering that Capel had deposited bank securities as a guarantee for her business and overdrafts, and that the money she believed she was making had not yet repaid her debt. On the evening he told her this, they had been on their way to dinner in Saint-Germain; she immediately insisted that they return to the apartment they now shared in Paris. ‘I felt sick,’she told Morand. ‘Impossible to eat…We went up to our flat in the Avenue Gabriel. I glanced at the pretty things I had bought with what I thought were my profits. So all that had been paid for by him! I was living off him. I began to hate this well-brought-up man who was paying for me. I threw my handbag straight at his face and I fled.’

The following morning, she told Morand, she went back to Rue Cambon at dawn. ‘“Angèle,” I said to my head seamstress, “I am not here to have fun, or to spend money like water. I am here to make a fortune.”’ A year later, Chanel was earning sufficient money to have no more need of Capel’s financial support, and she rejoiced in her independence. Her clothes looked simple – sleek and fluid, designed to be worn without corsets and with insouciance – and she sometimes gave the impression that her success as a designer had come as easily as slipping on a cardigan. It may be that her aesthetic subverted the cliché that appearances can be deceptive (whatever the subterfuges Chanel practised in reshaping her life, the twist she gave to modern fashion was that the line of beauty need not necessarily be misleading). ‘Fashion, like landscape, is a state of mind, by which I mean my own,’ she declared to Morand; but her territory of effortless chic took far more planning and hard-headedness than she let on. The rewards, however, were considerable, for her work, like her clothes, liberated Chanel from other constrictions. ‘I was my own master, and I depended on myself alone,’ she told Morand. ‘Boy Capel was well aware that he didn’t control me: “I thought I’d given you a plaything, I gave you freedom,” he once said to me in a melancholy voice.’

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