CHANEL has dismissed claims – made in a new book, Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel Secret War, by Hal Vaughan – that its founder Gabrielle Coco Chanel was “fiercely” anti-Semitic and even worked for the Nazis during World War II.
“Such insinuations cannot go unchallenged,” a Chanel spokesperson took the unusual step of telling us. “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. It is unlikely.
“We also know that she and Churchill were close friends for a long time. She apparently approached him about acting as an intermediary between the Allies and the Germans for a peace settlement known as Operation Modelhut. No one knows for sure exactly what happened or what her role was to be. There are several different versions and it will no doubt always remain a mystery.
“More than 57 books have been written about Gabrielle Chanel. To decide for yourself, we would encourage you to consult some of the more serious ones.”
The book also claims that Chanel was the lover of a spy, Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage, who “reported directly to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, right hand of Hitler”.
“We know for a fact that she had a relationship during the war with a German aristocrat she had met in Paris in the Thirties,” Chanel acknowledged, conceding, “the timing of this romance with a German was unfortunate even if Baron Von Dincklage’s mother was English and their relationship started before the war.”
The book is currently only available in the US, but Chanel highlights Justine Picardie’s Coco Chanel, the legend and the life as an independent and authoritative Coco Chanel tome available in the UK now.