Another Chanel Epiphany

Day 77: Items Purchased: 0, Temptation Radar: 8, I went on a Target trip and actually tried on clothes.  Items Purchased FOR Me: One cute new spring dress from my sister, Kristin (Hallelujah choir singing in the background)

Feeling much better, I am immersed, chin-deep in a Coco Chanel Biography while getting my feet wet in House of Mirth. 2 books you say? Yes. Why? No clue. Maybe it goes back to the whole multiple eggs in various baskets thing. Who knows. Whatever the case may be, one thing is for sure, Shopfast Personal Discovery #1: Aimee LOVES biographies. People are interesting. I love learning about  individuals….what makes them tick… their story. This intrigue is not limited to high-profile people.  In fact, I met am ordinary young lady last night with a remarkable life story….just in passing. We ended up talking  for over an hour about her miraculous deliverance from child alcoholism and abuse that had eventually morphed into heavy drug addiction and prostitution. 12 years ago, she had an encounter that saved her life. She overcame, helping other young people do the same.  Marvelous. Heroic….in a truly epic way.

Mademoiselle Chanel’s story is riveting to me mainly because of the depth and curious nature of her fabrication, and I’m not talking about textiles. Fudging on serious life details from her age and personal history to silly ones like the story of world-renowned fragrance No.5’s origination, she protected her heart, in many ways, through fantasy. She was lonely; abandoned as a child. Felt unloved. Out of this pain, she harnessed the most incredible creative power, and orchestrated a seemingly fairytale life. Yet, it was an extremely guarded one. At the time of her appointment for departure, amidst all fame, fortune, and the world’s admiration, a void remained. Obvious in statements like “Friends, there are no friends”, you begin to see a picture of immeasurable pain in the life of an icon. When I read such a phrase, all of the praise, celebration and luster of interlocked C s & lush tweed, boxy jackets evaporates. Suddenly, I wish to have been able to have offered her a hand, rather than purchased her handbag.

All of the things that we hope to accomplish…..that we’d be successful, that folks would think we have it together, that we’d be safe and secure and comfortable. Sigh. It just seems so…..blah. Whether one is  jo schmo’ on the street or a fashion icon, there is a story behind the face. There is a need.

I opened Chanel’s biography out of curiousity….to understand her life’s work… be entertained, to be inspired. I had no idea the story that was to be revealed. Thru this, I learned something rather unexpected about my own life’s work, and was able to share it with my dad on Tuesday. Heavy with grief that his 90-year-old next door neighbor had suffered a stroke, I could sense his longing for reassurance that he’d been a good friend to her. She was a widow and her children live far away. Hired caretakers did an amazing work serving a this lovely lady, but my dad always looked after her too. He sent flowers and gifts for special occasions, paid her weekly visits, looked after her safety, etc. Even during the last few days, he was visiting her in the hospital routinely. He would  touch her hand and she would squeeze, letting him know she was aware.  Throughout the conversation, I flashed back to the Chanel story and how her personal pain moved me even 40 years after her death, despite our generational and cultural gap. Chanel was alone when she died. “Dad, we just have to make it our life’s work to love people. It’s really not that hard.”

Mrs. Wherley went to her new home, Tuesday evening, on my Birthday.


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