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[39] T he T rap It’s been years since Beaton and Vogue— her coming as a tree to the Forest Ball, upper body swathed in leaves, face a mask of black powder. In her element before the lens, Chanel’s oblivious to the frame Avedon puts her in: posters plastered on the walls behind and overhead like a blade: Pourquoi HITLER. To her left, Lady Liberty stares beyond the swirling slogan of the barricades at a far far better thing. Avedon knows about her handsome German officer, the affair postwar Paris can’t forget. Spared the shaved head of collaborators, she was not led naked [40] through the streets. A brief arrest and then release to Swiss exile. She welcomes this respite from quarantine, chooses an outfit of jet, its collar white as a nun’s, tucks a triple rope of pearls under the belt. In a hat whose splash of brooch suggests a cockade, Chanel at 65 still exudes the style she stole from England: “elegant,” she wrote, “that is, detached.” The photo’s not released until she’s dead. By then, the irony of woman, wall and slogans juxtaposed has lost its edge. The young see an aging celebrity whose long thin neck is turning sinewy, her expression triste, resigned, the white [41] gloved hand holding a cigarette going to ash slightly lifted, extended as if in benediction, or to be kissed. ...


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MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
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