The very name Coco Chanel inspires thoughts of fashion and beauty, perfume and style, and a look of timeless elegance. But the woman behind the name, Gabrielle Chanel, survived a childhood that was anything but stylish and elegant. The daughter of an itinerant merchant whose mother died while she was still young, Chanel lived a life she later denied, raised by nuns in an orphanage as a charity case. Yet somehow, Chanel survived to become the queen of 20th-century fashion, a designer who didn't draw yet became the most influential designer of her time and beyond. This biography examines the life of Coco Chanel, her fashions, and her loves, showing how the French country girl became a fashion icon.