GABRIELLE “COCO” CHANEL, French designer, born (d: 1971); She designed the most simple, the most elegant, the most beautiful clothing of the 20th century and became rich from her ne plus ultra good taste. She was the saint who paid for the funeral of poet Raymond Radiguet, “Monsieur Bébé” Cocteau’s boy lover. She designed the costumes for most of Cocteau’s productions. She sheltered Cocteau when he was down and out, loaned him money, paid his bills.

Her life was, in many ways, indistinguishable from his. And yet she still lacks a biographer with the stature of a Francis Steegmuller, who could capture her word portrait on paper, fearlessly. Whatever she was, she was not the sanitized shell designed for Katherine Hepburn to portray on Broadway.

One would like to know everything about this woman whom Noël Coward recalled meeting in a Paris bomb shelter at the beginning of WWII. She had entered the shelter, followed, a few discreet steps behind, by her maid who carried Madame’s gas mask on a satin pillow.