Coco Chanel spied for the Nazis, French documentary claims

French designer, Gabrielle Coco Chanel, is known as the woman who changed the face of the fashion industry. (File Photo: AFP)

A lot of people remember French fashion icon Gabrielle Coco Chanel as the women’s liberator who changed the face of the fashion industry. But her designing talents was not the topic of this week’s French TV documentary.

The fashionista’s love affairs with high-ranking Nazi officers have long prompted speculations about Chanel’s actual involvement with the Nazi regime during WWII. But a French documentary, “The Shadow of a Doubt,” broadcast on France 3 this week, brought about fresh “evidence” that the designer might have been a Nazi agent.

Relying on Nazi documents from the French defense ministry archives, French historians Franck Ferrand said the designer indeed collaborated with her country’s occupiers.

According to the documentary, Chanel operated under the agent number F-7124 and codename “Westminster” – in reference to an affair she allegedly had with Britain’s Duke of Westminster in the 20s – after she was reportedly recruited by the Abwehr, a German military intelligence organization. She allegedly was in charge of recruiting Nazi sympathizers for spying.

The TV exposé went further to claim that the designer used her relationship with the Nazis to exploit the Nazi “Aryanisation” laws – which banned Jews from owning businesses – in a bid to reclaim her perfume company from the affluent French- Jewish business family, the Wertheimers, who acquired her Chanel no.5 in 1924.

This is the first time a French state broadcaster admits Chanel’s fiddling with the Nazis went beyond having a love affair with senior Gestapo officer Hans Gunther von Dincklage – which has been a public knowledge since the war.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43