Coco Chanel Was Allegedly A Nazi Spy


A new biography of Coco Chanel sheds more light on her wartime activities, and the house of Chanel seems to be bracing itself for backlash. What was ol’ Gabrielle up to during World War II? Palling around with Nazis at the Ritz, basically — but the house of Chanel is denying that its founder and namesake spied for the German regime, and that she was actually anti-Semitic. Coco Chanel had an affair with Hans Gunther von Dincklage, a Nazi military intelligence officer and immediate subordinate of Joseph Goebbels, during World War II, and was close with Walter Schellenberg, the Nazi head of foreign intelligence; she also sought to wrest control of the Chanel company from her Jewish business partners, the Wertheimers, under the Nazi anti-Jewish ownership laws. (She failed because the Wertheimers had secretly transferred ownership of the company to a Christian prior to the Nazi invasion of France.) Coco Chanel lived in Switzerland for nine years after the war’s end, in part to avoid prosecution as a collaborator; although her ties to various Nazi figures have long been well-known, the author of Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War has added significant original research to our understanding of that period of her life. The book even makes the claim that Coco Chanel herself was a Nazi spy. Author Hal Vaughan says, “I was looking for something else and I come across this document saying ‘Chanel is a Nazi agent, her number is blah, blah, blah and her pseudonym is Westminster.’ I look at this again and I say, ‘What the hell is this?’ I couldn’t believe my eyes! Then I really started hunting through all of the archives, in the United States, in London, in Berlin and in Rome and I come across not one, but 20, 30, 40 absolutely solid archival materials on Chanel and her lover, Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage, who was a professional Abwehr spy.” Modern-day Chanel’s response? “She would hardly have formed a relationship with the family of the owners or counted Jewish people among her close friends and professional partners such as the Rothschild family, the photographer Irving Penn or the well-known French writer Joseph Kessel had these really been her views.” So, basically, she had Jewish friends. Chanel also denies that Coco Chanel spied for the Nazi regime, calls the timing of her relationship with Dincklage “unfortunate” but points out that his mother was English (as though that mattered), and asserts that she approached Winston Churchill about “acting as an intermediary between the Allies and the Germans for a peace settlement known as Operation Modelhut.” That makes Operation Modelhut sound pretty benign, but the truth is a lot more complicated; the Times of London called Operation Modelhut a “Nazi plot” that was to use Coco Chanel as “bait.” [Vogue UK]

The incredible photographer Deborah Turbeville is working on some kind of project with Donna Karan, to be unveiled during London Fashion Week. [HB UK]

French actress Léa Seydoux, who plays Gabrielle the antiques dealer in Midnight in Paris, was once an American Apparel model. Link NSFW, because American Apparel, duh. [Fashionista]

Current Playboy cover model Daisy Lowe looks really cute in these promotional shots for her mother Pearl’s latest (Stevie Nicks-inspired!) collection for Peacocks. [Telegraph]

Steven Meisel shot plus-size model Candice Huffine for the September issue of W. Huffine got two shots in an editorial that also featured Karen Elson, Carolyn Murphy, and Raquel Zimmerman. Link NSFW. [Ford Models Blog]

Heidi Klum made the September cover of Harper’s Bazaar‘s Russian edition. [DS]

Esperanza Spalding is on the cover of the next issue of T. [WWD]

There are pictures of Anna Dello Russo‘s collection for Macy’s INC brand. Unfortunately, there are no photos of the AMAZING SUNGLASSES that the models were wearing at the preview last night, so you’ll have to take our word for their existence (and amazingness). [Fashionologie]
Giambattista Valli has signed on to produce a collection for Macy’s, too. [Vogue UK]

In case you are or a man of your acquaintance is in need of a pair of pleated-front, elasticized-cuff khaki pants, Dockers is rolling out a series of designer collaborations over the coming season, including pieces from T by Alexander Wang, Michael Bastian, and Patrik Ervell. [WWD]

There’s an article in this week’s Times Style section on the excellent blog Street Etiquette, which writer Jon Caramanica calls “now one of the foremost online repositories of black style.” [NYTimes]

Thakoon is selling this lightweight wool plaid scarf for $250, and 100% of the proceeds will go to aid for the millions of people affected by Somalia’s famine. The country is currently experiencing its worst drought in 50 years. [Official Site]

  • “Following John F. Kennedy‘s assassination in 1963, his brother Bobby took the late president’s inauguration suit from 1961 back to the New York store Chipp, where Kennedy had bought it, and asked them to remake it in his own — much smaller — size.” [WWD]
  • After yesterday’s news about Abercrombie & Fitch sending an open letter to the cast of Jersey Shore offering to pay them to not wear its clothes, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino Tweeted a link to a story about Abercrombie’s share price, which fell 9% in yesterday’s trading, with the note, “Looks like Abercrombie got themself into a Situation!” [@ItsTheSituation]
  • “They can go from bed to street and back to bed again in an endless cycle that mirrors the downward cycle of the communities where these garments flap on clotheslines and hang on balcony railings. In short, sweatpants are a sign of surrender, of giving up, of hopelessness, of no longer needing to make an effort in society.” Oh, great. Another one of these. Really, would you expect a man named “Tyler Brûlé” to approve of sweatpants? [FT]
  • Authorities in Brazil have raided a cramped sweatshop where workers, most of them Bolivian, were employed sewing Zara garments for 7-12 cents apiece. Zara is distancing itself from the factory, saying the illegally low wages and unsafe working conditions were the responsibility of a subcontractor. [BBC]
  • In further news of the debasement of the word “curate” (see also: “edit”), Leigh Lezark is “guest-curating” an H&M store inside a Selfridges store in London. [Vogue UK]
  • This video of Coco Rocha talking about her Irish dancing background is really awesome. [Vimeo]
  • “When Bruce Weber was taking pictures of me like a month later my friends woke me up in the middle of the night and said come to Times Square with us, so I went to Times Square and that’s when they used to put the big billboards of models up there and I looked up and saw a huge billboard of just me and a portrait of my face and it said underneath “American Beauty.” And I had never thought of myself as beautiful, I never really thought of myself as American because I was Japanese and I couldn’t…it was just one of these things where it was almost overwhelming.” Model Jenny Shimizu discusses her career and her activism for LGBT rights and AIDS causes in this interview. There’s also an interview with Tao Okamoto, in which she confesses to checking Cute Overload daily. [Stylecaster]
  • Tavi Gevinson and Ari Seth Cohen, the man behind the wonderful blog Advanced Style, are co-hosting an informal salon, gallery show, and live performance in New York City during fashion week. Sounds fun. [Advanced Style]
  • Charlotte and Samantha Ronson turned 34. Sam, recently arrested for a DUI, deejayed and reportedly celebrated without alcohol. [NYDN]
  • Tory Burch‘s ex-husband Chris, who still owns part of the company that he co-founded, is said to be shopping his minority stake. That could mean an initial public offering is on the horizon. [FT]
  • The Council of Fashion Designers of America named the following new designers to its business incubator program: Antonio Azzuolo, Arielle Shapiro of Ari Dein, Doug and Ben Burkman of Burkman Bros, Christian Cota, Emanuela Duca, Rick Hendry and Marc Daniels of Isaora, Luis Fernandez of Number: Lab, Reece Solomon of Reece Hudson, Timo Weiland and Alan Eckstein of Timo Weiland, and Maayan Zilberman and Nikki Dekker of The Lake & Stars. Congrats to all. []
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