Gabrielle Chanel — better known as Coco — was a wretched human being. Anti-Semitic, homophobic, social climbing, opportunistic, ridiculously snobbish and given to sins of phrase-making like “If blonde, use blue perfume,” she was addicted to morphine and actively collaborated with the Germans during the Nazi occupation of Paris. And yet, her clean, modern, kinetic designs, which brought a high-society look to low-regarded fabrics, revolutionized women’s fashion, and to this day have kept her name synonymous with the most glorious notions of French taste and élan.This is the kind of silliness that drives me nuts. To give a headline: Evil Wretches Still Capable of Artistry. The idea seems to be that if an individual can create something of lasting aesthetic value the fact that he or she was a horrific person ought surprise us despite the fact that the history of the world is filled with precisely those kinds of people.
In a similar fashion, and no doubt equally as surprising, louts with mongoose's aesthetic appreciation of fashion struggled against the evils with which Chanel collaborated. They might, of course, have appreciated something else and yet left nothing of "lasting" value behind but a well bred pig or neatly written ledger, or whathaveyou. Why, it's almost like the objects aesthetic appreciation and ethical actions have nothing whatsoever to do with one another.