As far as Halloween costumes go, my results always seem to fall into the category “lazy but soignée.” (I long to invest in made-to-measure pearl-white silicone mask. I’d pair it a satin robe so that each year I could go as Christiane Génessier (played by Edith Scob), the once-beautiful faceless captive daughter of a plastic surgeon in Les Yeux Sans Visage , one of my favorite films.)
Anyhow, last night I decided I was going to lazily costume myself as a 19 th -century amazone, basically a snooty horseback rider . The idea came from watching Coco before Chanel . The sentimental biopic didn’t inspire me, exactly. But it did reminded me that I had a 19 th -century riding top hat somewhere deep in my closet. The costume would require minimal effort for maximum grown-up sex appeal: some glittery Shu Uemura false eyelashes, lace leggings, a whip, a cape, and some Nat Sherman gold-papered cigarettes. Who knows, maybe I could score some horse tranquilizer and store it in my chatelaine ? Kidding.
But when I tried on the costume and looked in the mirror I started wondering about Chanel’s age at various biographical milestones. (At 34, you start wondering about the age of the female personalities: By when did they achieve X? What about Y?) With the help of Axel Madsen’s biography , I did a little math. For starters, Coco was born in 1883. Her first Little Black Dress appeared in Vogue in 1926-she was 43! This seems at odds with the popular Coco Before Chanel conception of her as some kind of savvy, jersey-loving orphan, doesn’t it? Coco Chanel was certainly no wunderkind. In fact, we may even want to think of her as a late bloomer.