Excellent reading last night at Powell's City of Books: the fabulous Karen Karbo with her book The Gospel According to Coco Chanel. It's shelved under self-help, I think, at Powell's, but to me, it leans more toward biography. Is it self-help in the form of biography or biography in the form of self-help? That's some nice wolf-in-sheep's-clothing, there - and ultra elegant sheep's clothing, of course. At the reading, Karen called it "riffography," and I think that's the perfect kind of biography for a woman like Chanel. Because she may have had her ups and downs, her goods and bads, but we're not reading about her to luxuriate in her personal tragedies or bad habits - we're reading about her because deep down there's a part of us that wants to be her.
Be stylish, be big personality, be confident, be great wits, be comfortable in our skins.
The book is also very funny - and so was the reading. Karen is a great reader - has great timing. And there was a slideshow! Or powerpoint. I don't really know the difference. But there were pictures!
I like pictures!
[Seriously, did Coco ever do cigarette ads?]
The powerpoint show was framed with droll captions and sometimes tragically funny pairings of photos from Coco's time and ours.
After the reading, Karen took loads of really great questions and gave us loads of detailed answers. And was very attentive to everyone as they lined up to get books signed. My bonus for the evening was Diane Ponti, also there for the reading, so it was great chatting afterward, and great meeting a very nice writer who studies under Karen, and one person knew another person in the crowd, who knew another, and we had a nice, little group waiting in line for Karen.
Of course, me being me, I wanted to dress up for the event - something semi-demi-quasi-pseudo-reminiscent of Chanel. I consulted the book for guidelines - blacks, beiges, jackets, cardigans, sleek lines, nothing barrel-like or bubble-like... Then I consulted my very own built-in Chanel - Stephen - for his eye and expertise. He said, hmm, the jacket's not going to look good with the. And that cardigan's not as good as the. And pointed and said, how about this? I said, "Great, and it's beige! Coco loved beige!"
Stephen said, "That's not beige. That's tan."
So apparently all my life, I've never known what beige means.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is why I need Stephen.
Well, not the only reason why, but it's pretty important.