Coco Chanel epitomized style and timeless fashion. She created a look for women from the 1920s to the '50s. Vintage Chanel clothing is still sought after by movie stars and women of fashion today. Chanel No. 5 perfume is probably the best known and most popular cologne in the world. The name is synonymous with France even today.
Chanel was born in poverty and rose to wealth through hard work, talent, determination and a willingness to accept financial help, real estate, and expensive gifts from a series of wealthy lovers. She made friends in high places in France, in Germany, and in England, including Winston Churchill and members of the royal family.
But there was another, darker side to Coco Chanel that few people knew about before the release of this book.Sleeping With the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War reveals that secret side.
Chanel was virulently anti-Semitic and dedicated to preserving her own standard of living. During the War, she lived at The Ritz and was barely touched by the severe deprivations ordinary French citizens suffered. She seems to have had little concern for anyone outside her social circle or family or for anything outside her business.
When Chanel took a German spy, Baron Hans Günther von Dincklage, she became a German spy herself. Dincklage ran a spy ring with many informants, and Chanel joined that ring as an official collaborator.
While this may be shocking to many readers, there is no clear evidence that Chanel actually gathered any useful information for the Germans. She apparently had some idea that she might be able to use her friendship with Churchill and the British royals to promote a pro-German peace treaty which would allow Hitler and the Nazis to remain in power. This, of course, was highly unlikely, although the book does reveal that there were many more pro-Germans among the British nobility than most people realize.