The former editor of Marie-Claire has written an occasionally hyperbolic (after all -- he is French) portrait of another grande dame who is not quite a Madame -- not that Chanel hasn't more chic and charm than Helena Rubenstein with moments when she equalled her peremptory despotism. But she's just not as entertaining or perhaps it is just that in her constant flirtation with facts and figures (particularly time) she has managed to remember and reveal less of ""Her Life, Her Secrets"" than one might wish. Love was more important to Chanel than to Mme. Rubenstein and via a first older man, she was able to get out from behind that black orphanage apron, open a hat shop in Compiegne, come up to Paris and found the famous House of Chanel. The liaison with Boy Capel who, as he sounds, might have walked right out of Michael Arlen -- an English playboy -- lasted until his death in a car accident; after that there was the more discreet relationship with the Duke of Westminster. But at all times there were the many friendships with Picasso, Diaghilev, Cocteau, Dali, and the monastic Reverdy. Chanel had more ups and downs than the hemline but always she maintained her conservative imprimatur and became the legend which her maxim (for which she had a genuine penchant) states with pertinent grace: ""I am no longer what I was. I will remain what I have become."" A pleasant book to read -- there's a certain sweetness in the air, like No. 5.