Never-before-seen pictures reveal Coco Chanel at work in her design studio - draped in pearls with a cigarette in her mouth 

  • Never-before-seen image of Coco Chanel hard at work in her design studio has been unearthed
  • Captured by famed photographer Douglas Kirkland for his book, Coco Chanel: Three Weeks/1962
  • Shots were taken over just 21 days in Paris when he was sent on an assignment for Look magazine in August 1962
  • The 144-page volume shows the designer, who was 79 years old at the time, in a number of day-to-day scenarios
  • Chanel passed away in Paris in 1971 at her Ritz apartment aged 87

With a cigarette hanging from her lips, Coco Chanel makes adjustments to one of her signature dresses in her design studio in Paris.

The never-before-seen image of Coco hard at work creating one of her coveted designs gives an unprecedented insight into the work of a true design genius.

The snap of the designer, who is clad in her signature pearls, chic boxy jacket and trademark hat, was captured by famed photographer Douglas Kirkland.

The images fill a new limited-edition book, Coco Chanel: Three Weeks/1962. As the title suggests, the shots were taken over just 21 days in Paris, when a 27-year-old Kirkland was sent on an assignment for Look magazine in August 1962. 

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A never-before-seen image of Coco Chanel hard at work in her design studio has been unearthed in a book titled Coco Chanel: Three Weeks/1962 by famed photographer, Douglas Kirkland - and shows the master of design working on a piece from her mighty brand

A never-before-seen image of Coco Chanel hard at work in her design studio has been unearthed in a book titled Coco Chanel: Three Weeks/1962 by famed photographer, Douglas Kirkland - and shows the master of design working on a piece from her mighty brand

The 144-page volume shows the designer, who was 79 years old at the time, in her apartment in the Ritz, at the studio preparing for a catwalk show, and on a weekend trip to Versailles. 

Writing in his introduction, Kirkland, now 80, says: 'Mademoiselle's hair was black under the hat I never once saw her remove. Her features were sharp and determined.

'At 79, she still had impeccable posture and stood erect as a ballerina. She couldn't have weighed more than 90 pounds and moved around with great energy. Everyone always showed her total respect. She made opinionated statements, and I don't ever remember disagreeing with her.' 

The shots were taken over just 21 days in Paris, when a 27-year-old Kirkland was sent on an assignment for Look magazine in August 1962, and show a never-before-seen side to the famed designers

The shots were taken over just 21 days in Paris, when a 27-year-old Kirkland was sent on an assignment for Look magazine in August 1962, and show a never-before-seen side to the famed designers

The designer, who passed away age 87, can be seen donning her signature pearls, chic boxy jacket and trademark hat in the candid shots taken in Paris, France

The designer, who passed away age 87, can be seen donning her signature pearls, chic boxy jacket and trademark hat in the candid shots taken in Paris, France

Describing the esteemed designer, the young photographer wrote in the book's introduction: 'Mademoiselle's hair was black under the hat I never once saw her remove. Her features were sharp and determined'

Describing the esteemed designer, the young photographer wrote in the book's introduction: 'Mademoiselle's hair was black under the hat I never once saw her remove. Her features were sharp and determined'

Mr Kirkland, who was initially very nervous to take the job, said he believes Chanel liked him - and therefore gave him never-before-granted access.

'I assumed, like many French people at the time, she didn't speak English,' he wrote. 'Then one morning I turned a corner in a narrow hallway at the atelier and found myself face-to-face with her. 

'She looked straight at me and said "Salut." I froze, not knowing how to respond. After a beat, in her low voice, she said in perfect English, "I just said hello to you."' 

After that, the pair went everywhere together - and Mr Kirkland got to see her latest collection come together, from fittings to the runway show. 

It was Chanel, in fact, who encouraged Mr Kirkland to embrace French culture and learn the language, which he says ultimately led to him meeting and marrying his French wife Francoise a few years later.  

Mr Kirkland said he believes Chanel liked him - and therefore gave him never-before-granted access in the space of just 21 days

Mr Kirkland said he believes Chanel liked him - and therefore gave him never-before-granted access in the space of just 21 days

It was Chanel who encouraged Mr Kirkland to embrace French culture and learn the language - and he even met his wife as a result

It was Chanel who encouraged Mr Kirkland to embrace French culture and learn the language - and he even met his wife as a result

The trip to Versailles would later hold a special significance to Mr Kirkland, since it was the last time he and Chanel spent time together. 

'As we walked, the summer day turned chilly and gray, and it eventually started to drizzle,' he said. 'I offered Mademoiselle my raincoat, which she put over her shoulders turning it into a stylish cape.

'As our time was ending, I looked back in the graying light and saw her small figure in the distance. I asked myself "How could such a small individual command such power?" I raised my camera quietly and made one final photo, which is my lasting vision of Coco Chanel.'

No stranger to photographing some of the world's most beloved icons, Kirkland has captured Man Ray, Marilyn Monroe, and Judy Garland, among countless others, in his time. 

Mr Kirkland, who has now been working in the industry for more than 60 years, has taken pictures - many of them now iconic and often imitated - of more than 600 celebrities. He has also snapped photos on more than 150 movie sets, from The Sound Of Music to Titanic. 

His images of a scantily clad Marilyn Monroe on a bed won him national acclaim, and he recreated the photos in 2002 with Angelina Jolie. 

Chanel is credited with ending corset-style dressing for women, and ushering in a more casual, easier-to-move-around-in, menswear-inspired look. Besides clothing, her brand includes jewellery, accessories, and perfume, including Chanel No. 5. 

She passed away in Paris in 1971 at her Ritz apartment. She was 87 years old. 

Douglas Kirkland has compiled a series of intimate and informal snaps of Coco Chanel in a new book
Coco Chanel: Three Weeks/1962 captures an informal side to the famed designer

The book, right, by Kirkland, left, who has now been working in the industry for more than 60 years, is described on Amazon as 'as staggeringly beautiful as it is an impassioned'

This limited-edition version of Coco Chanel: Three Weeks/1962 retails for $350 and contains a print signed by the photographer himself

 

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