In the fashion industry, few names rival Chanel. A staple of celebrity and influencer alike, the mirrored C's are recognized world over, and no tweed jacket matched with pearls can go without the house's stamp of influence.
What fewer people are knowledgeable of (including yours truly), is the murky history of Coco Chanel. Outsiders such as myself have recognized her purely as the talented French maverick who had a love affair with Igor Stravinsky, and who dared sport trousers and a tan when utmost femininity ("feminity" here referring to the prudish and backwards idea that it exclusively encompassed a universe of dresses and fair skin) was the only style considered attractive.
But if journalists have done their homework correctly, it would appear that Coco Chanel was more than an icon: not only was she a chronic anti-Semite, but evidence alludes to the fact that she was a Nazi intelligence operative as well.
Why is this information not more widespread? Well, I can think of a few possible reasons. Convenience would be the biggest one, I suppose. Ugliness is much easier to sweep under the rug and turn a blind eye to, especially when that ugliness involves an empire like Chanel. There was also her style and talent, which in the eyes of some, are qualities that make a person more redeemable.
And then there's the simple idea of not biting the hand that feeds you. That makes sense enough. No one wants to seem disloyal or ungrateful: Chanel is a French idol, and moreover, global fashion treasure. But what if the other hand had been punching someone in the face while you sat chewing quietly? How is not biting excused then?
This isn't to remark on who runs Chanel now. Karl Lagerfeld, as far as I know, is not anti-anything, except maybe nice sometimes. Nor is it to remark on the house itself, though it does carry the famed designer's name. But as stated above, the unsavory bits of Chanel's timeline have never seen enough light to bring any real damage to the label, unlike Spanish-British designer John Galliano, whose indisputable, recorded anti-Semitic outburst at a Paris bistro in 2011 cost him his job at Dior and ostracized him temporarily from the fashion community. It took years for Galliano to atone for his sins—atonement that was never required of Coco Chanel and her hidden sordid past.
And shouldn't that be more concerning than it is?
Basically Zara everything, except for the Banana Republic necklace and Mood Fabrics ribbon.