But, no, there were actually other men, though Coco never obsessed too much over romance. One of my favorite quotes of hers is that “if [a man] is titled, rich, very rich, one becomes fair game, a quarry; a hare, a fox. Those English ladies are great hunters; they are forever hunting. I have never imagined thinking, here is a man I want; I’ll get him – where is my gun.”
Maybe that’s why she was so successful with men. Despite the fact that every movie depiction suggests she spent the rest of her life mourning Boy Capel . . . no, she didn’t. She did have this amusing caricature to remember their time together, though!
She had a ten year long (on again, off again) affair with “Bendor”, the 2nd Duke of Westminster beginning in 1925. He was said to have been one of the wealthiest men in the world. Clearly when you have really smart boater hats you do not need a gun.
And women! Chanel supposedly had lesbian affairs during her time in Hollywood when she designed costumes for MGM for 1 million dollars a year. That lifestyle was fairly accepted at the time, especially in Hollywood, among the Chanel-Cocteau crowd as were, apparently, “orgies and drug use”.
You know, every time I read about orgies being commonly accepted, I always think “How did that work? How were they organized?” I mean, we have all these organizational tools at our disposal – Facebook! Paperless Post! – but I have never once been invited to an orgy. How was seemingly every era prior to this one “all orgies all the time?” I think I’m at a pretty racy party if someone disappears into a bathroom for a while to give everyone the impression that they might be doing cocaine. If someone told me, “Last weekend I was at yet another orgy”, I would say, “No, you are lying, you were at home eating Cheez-its and watching Boardwalk Empire.” And I’d be right.
I think I’m suggesting that maybe . . . oh, there wasn’t any Boardwalk Empire then. Okay. I guess that’s why there were more orgies. (Fun fact – there were Cheez-its in 1921, though.)
However, through all the orgies and romances and Hollywood escapades, Coco was known to be very apolitical. The biographer Hal Vaughan remarked:
“Chanel didn’t believe in anything, except fashion. Chanel believed in beautiful clothes, she believed in her business and rightly so.”
Though all of that was about to change.