A conversational memoir charting the rise of the former global CEO of Chanel.
Coached by her aesthetically aware mother to develop “a sensitivity and curiosity to see and discover more of the world,” Chiquet was only 16 when she began envisioning an escape from the conservative confines of her suburban St. Louis childhood to “take in the immense beauty of a new picture.” She instantly fell in love with France after spending time in Provence, allured by pungent cheeses, liberating nudity at beaches, and a total immersion in the elegance of Parisian culture. After college at Yale, complete with semesters abroad, Chiquet began her remarkable managerial ascent at a succession of reputable companies. She sweeps readers inside her young, driven world as a fledgling marketing intern at L’Oreal Parfumerie in 1985, a stint at The Gap, and her role launching the Old Navy brand in 1994. All the while, she cultivated controversial trends and gained credibility as a businesswoman and a fashion-forward style forecaster. The book is bolstered with the author’s frequent asides on how striving for uniqueness can lead to dynamic achievements in business. Aiming for a crisp amalgam of memoir and motivational guide, her declarations oscillate from the classically platitudinous (“no opportunity is ever too small to show you what you can accomplish”) to the practical. Though Chiquet is frank and cleareyed about her career trajectory and openly shares opinions and insights on leadership, personal growth, and embracing change, the memoir drags with excess anecdotal material leading up to her celebrated tenure with Chanel. Readers hoping for the juicy inside story on the boardrooms and catwalk action of the fashion house may be disappointed with the book’s cursory closing chapters. Resigning from Chanel in 2016, she reflects on her time as a brand leader, imparting the sage wisdom she has gained through her impressive career and as a mother. The challenge she faced after Chanel was how to reinvent herself and forge ahead in new directions.
An inspirational but disjointed autobiography best suited for neophyte designers, budding fashionistas, and Chanel devotees.