PRINT November 1992


Glamour Wounds

RICH AS HELL, BUT OLD and alone, Coco Chanel spent her final years at the Ritz, wheezing, increasingly cranky, and sensitized to other people’s odors. When she got really old, she wouldn’t die. At night she used to sleepwalk through the Ritz, where staff people would find her wandering in the hallway. They said she always looked impeccable.

While Chanel seems to stand for the ultimate in “Modernist” values: good design, originality, and signature style, in fact she also undermined the cliches of high-Modernist fetish practice by inventing expensive costume jewelry, which put in question the difference between real and fake fetishes. She openly enjoyed other people’s rip-offs of her designs, because they were free advertising. Late this century, street knock-offs of Chanel items have proliferated in major urban centers, trading on the senseless but effective fetish power of the Chanel logo

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