Five-Minute Pow-Wow: Karen Karbo Talks Chanel



We love the deliciously readable book, The Gospel According to Coco Chanel by Karen Karbo. So we were (very) excited to get the author’s takes on modern icons, personal style, and the state of fashion. (Like us on Facebook and read the entire interview in our Notes.)

Rue La La: The Gospel is more than just a biography, it’s almost a self-help guide – did you set out with that mission in mind?
Karen: Absolutely. One of my abiding interests in female icons is why they continue to be iconic. What is it about their lives that continues to hold our attention? Chanel’s life was immensely satisfying and she lived it exactly as she wanted, decade in, decade out. I was fascinated by what we might learn about the way she lived that that would enrich our lives. I joked to someone that The Gospel was “a biography for a self-absorbed time,” but I wasn’t kidding!

Rue La La: What do you think Chanel would say about this season’s return to lady-like classics?
Karen: I can safely predict that she’d be all for it. Chanel was all about feminine clothes in which it was easy to move – in which a woman could raise her arm to hail a taxi and stride through the streets of any city in confidence. She would have hated low-rise jeans.

Rue La La: And what would Chanel think about online shopping?
Karen: I imagine she’d applaud anything that would make it easier for people to purchase her clothes. She always believed that fashion, to be truly successful, must be embraced by everyday women going about their business.

Rue La La: We also loved How to Hepburn – what do you think about the return to those Hepburn pants that’s happening right now?
Karen: I wouldn’t wear them! But if I was a long-legged string bean like Kate I would. And thanks for the kind words about HTH. She was one of our household saints when I was growing up.

Rue La La: What makes someone indisputably chic?
Karen: An absolute knowledge and faith in your personal style. It’s not the clothes, per se, but the confidence with which they’re worn. Also, sunglasses.

Rue La La: What are the most cherished items in your closet?
Karen: I have several pairs of cowboy boots worth crying over – and also the Chanel-style jacket I made myself. I have a great hot pink Ralph Lauren Blue Label top with frilly sleeves that I would miss. But otherwise, as long as I have access to J.Crew, and yes, Rue La La, I’m good.

Rue La La: You end The Gospel without buying a Chanel jacket. Have you still not succumbed?
Karen: Oh, Rue La La! I have not yet succumbed. I have not yet found the perfect jacket that would justify the cost. Which doesn’t mean I’m not still shopping.

October 28, 2010