On the Rue Cambon, Chanel No. 5 was sprayed every morning when the doors opened. It was the aroma of a boudoir, of love. And of a hive: at Chanel, every bee worked in the service of the queen. The saleswomen wore black, and the workers and the models between fittings wore white overalls. And both the customers and “la patronne” wore a tweed outfit which “Mademoiselle” insisted on calling a “suit.” It has been copied countless times but never matched. Her employees were like an army ready to march at the slightest gesture from its general. Mademoiselle... To my knowledge, there was only one other like her in French history: the cousin of Louis XIV, who had the nerve to fire cannons on the king’s army. She was called La Grande Mademoiselle. Mine was hardly grand. Some called her Coco, remembering the sparrow she once had been. I would never have thought of it. Mademoiselle was a queen indeed.
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