Historical story

An anti-Semite and a homophobe. The real face of Coco Chanel?

A book by Hal Vaughan, released a few days ago, entitled "Sleeping with Enemy" caused a sensation with the history of the famous fashion dictator's collaboration with the German Abwehr during World War II. However, this is not the only controversial thread in Coco Chanel's life. Vaughan also recalls that all her life she was a passionate anti-Semite and even a homophobe.

The roots of the anti-Semitism of the future style icon were in her upbringing. She spent her youth in the Catholic convention-orphanage Aubazine, where she was instilled - in accordance with the teaching of the Church at the time - hatred of Jews. Although she later freed herself from the rural poor and entered the world of the elite, she did not hide her approach to the followers of the Mosaic religion until the end of her life.

She once confided to French editor and writer Marcel Haedrich that she was only afraid of Jews and Chinese. Jews more than the Chinese (p. 4). According to Haedrich, her anti-Semitism was not limited to words - she expressed her views with passion, promoted them, and even ... supported Nazi anti-Jewish laws .

She was never ashamed of hatred of Jews, mingling with like-minded people. One of her lovers, Bendor, Duke of Westminster and Count Grosvenor, had taught her that the world was under the threat of a Bolshevik flood, which of course the Jews were behind.

Perhaps it was from him that the aversion to homosexuals also took over. Although she had nothing against lesbians, gays were healthy to get on her nerves. In 1946, she herself stated:

Homosexuals? Don't they cling to women over and over, constantly showering them with compliments:"my beauty, my baby, my angel"? I saw those nasty jerks they destroy young women's lives:through drugs, divorce and scandals. (…) Because the fagots want to be women - only they are pathetically successful (p. 41) .

Even though she happened to collaborate with Jews in her career, even then she spoke about them in an at least ambiguous way. During a trip to Hollywood she said: There are great Jews, there are Israelites, but there are also [nasty] French Jews (p. 62) . These are the warmest words about the "murderers of Christ" that could pass through her mouth. Soon its rampant anti-Semitism was about to reach its heights.

Coco Chanel. The style icon and ... the anti-Semitic scorched.

With her new lover, Paul Iribe, in 1933 she began publishing the journal Le Temoin. It was, as Hal Vaughan explains:

a more delicate reflection of the fascist and anti-Semitic French press. It supported French militants (...) as well as groups advocating "law and order" in Italy and Germany (p. 79).

Coco Chanel. Without the little black dress, but with cunning Jews overhead. Illustration from her Le Temoin magazine.

In the February 24, 1933 issue, an illustration was published showing Chanel as a symbol of France - Marianna. The drawing shows the naked body of the fashion designer and ... the Jews harassing her .

This shocking illustration is nothing compared to the attitude of Coco Chanel after the outbreak of World War II. At that time, she made every effort to seize the property of the Jewish Wertheimer family, with whom she had been running the perfume business until now.

In pursuit of a greater share of profits, she asked to "arise" the company of its existing partners and hand over everything ... to itself. As you can see, she considered herself an "Aryan" without hesitation.

Probably not that Coco you knew?


Hal Vaughan, Sleeping with the Enemy . Coco Chanel's Secret War , Alfred A. Knopf, 2011.