QUEL SCANDALE! The Ghost of Coco Chanel Will Haunt You, Judge Your Outfit
Oct 31, 2012 - by Lester Brathwaite
Happy Halloween, kids! To get you in the mood for All Hallow's Eve, even if you're stranded in your apartment thanks to a particularly sassy hurricane cum superstorm, here's a tale of sartorial spookiness starring the ghost of one of the greatest designers of the 20th century.
The Hôtel Ritz has had many a legendary guest. Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ingrid Bergman, Cole Porter, Noël Coward, Marcel Proust, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, kings and queens, dignitaries and diplomats. One of the hotel's most loyal devotees was Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, who lived in the Ritz for over 35 years.
"The Ritz is my home," she once proclaimed. And she meant it. Chanel moved into a suite in 1934 and lived there until her death in 1971. During the German occupation of France, the hotel's owner, Charles Ritz, brokered a deal with the German commandant to divide the hotel in two; one side for the German officers and high command, the other for civilians like Mme. Chanel.
The designer, whose dalliances with the Nazis is well known, could have sat down to tea with them in the dining room of the Ritz, which was simultaneously used by everyone.
In fact, Chanel had originally fled from the Ritz once the Nazis stormed into town, but "she found that the life of a refugee didnt suit her [Ed. note: werq]," according to Vanity Fair, "so she soon returned to the hotel. Her suite had been requisitioned by a Nazi officer, so she was obliged to live in a small room on the Cambon side. She did not live alone in the small room for very long. She was soon involved with the handsome, aristocratic Baron Hans Günther von Dincklage, known as 'Spatz,' chief of textiles for Paris, and he lived with her until the war ended. Noël Coward, who had often stayed at the Ritz before the war, said he would always remember Cocos entrance into the hotels air-raid shelter during an alert: she would be followed by her maid, bearing Cocos gas mask on a cushion."
Upon her death, The Ritz christened one of their most luxurious and expensive rooms the Coco Chanel Suite, though her actual room was much smaller and on a higher floor overlooking Rue Cambon. Author Justine Picardie was staying in that room while working on her book, Chanel: Her Life, when one night, she says, she turned off the lights and turned in. Suddenly, a bulb erupted from its wall sconce. Then the other lights began to flicker and her bedside table lamp mysteriously shut off.
Picardie decided to give up the ghost, as it were, and get back to work. The next morning, the author reported the technical glitches to the front desk, which sent up an electrician. When the electrician arrived, he couldnt find anything wrong with the wiring nor could he explain why the bulb had jumped ship.
Later, another member of the hotel staff remarked in passing, Well, I hear Mademoiselle paid you a visit last night.
And Mme. Coco Chanel continues to haunt The Ritz to this day, playing Parcheesi with Hitler and secretly removing one article of clothing from the outfits of the woefully unstylish. BWAHAHAHAHA!