Coco Chanel’s colourful biography is the basis for a new children’s book, Coco of het kleine zwarte jurkje (‘Coco or the little black dress’), by prize-winning Dutch book illustrator and author Annemarie van Haeringen. This little gem of a book (Dutch only) is the eleventh in the series of children’s art books currently being issued by Gemeentemuseum Den Haag in partnership with publishers Leopold. It is being published to coincide with The Chanel Legend, an exhibition on at the museum from 12 October – 2 February 2014.
With its enchanting illustrations, the book offers a breathtaking account of the life of Coco Chanel that will delight readers of all ages. Chanel’s ‘Little Black Dress’, classic women’s suits and Chanel No. 5 perfume are all still part of the basic universal fashion vocabulary of women today. Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel (1883-1971) produced designs that revolutionised the way women dressed in the 20th century. Her extraordinary ‘rags to riches’ life story has captivated the public for generations and remains a source of lasting inspiration. Annemarie van Haeringen’s touching little story is like a modern fairytale. Little Coco grows up in an orphanage where she has to toil to pay her way under the thumb of black-clad ‘aunties’. But she also learns to sew and embroider. At the age of eighteen, she has to find a job. The world is her oyster. And there’s one thing Coco knows for sure: she never, ever wants to be poor again.
The book is available from 12 October at the price of €13.95 from all good bookshops in the Netherlands and from the museum shop at Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. At the same time, the museum’s special children’s gallery will be the venue for an exhibition of Annemarie van Haeringen’s original illustrations, shown together with relevant objects from the museum’s collections. Every Sunday afternoon from 12.00 to 16.00, there will be a free, walk-in workshop for children aged 5 and over.
Many children growing up in the Netherlands will be familiar with Annemarie van Haeringen’s other books, such as De Prinses met de lange haren, Malmok, Beer is op vlinder (Bear for Butterfly) and the series about Kleine Ezel (Little Donkey). Her boldly coloured illustrations transport the reader into a world of enchantment. Van Haeringen has won the Dutch Golden Brush award (the most important Dutch prize for children’s book illustrators) on several occasions and was awarded the Silver Pencil for Het begin van de zee.