In Order To Be Irreplaceable One Must Always Be Different

Coco Chanel? Marcel Haedrich? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: A cookie created with a cookie cutter is easily replaceable, and this fact lowers its perceived value. This baking utensil is employed in a metaphorical insult targeting lack of originality, e.g., cookie-cutter clothes and cookie-cutter houses.

Understandably, people like to view themselves as irreplaceable. Yet, to achieve this distinction a person must be in some way unique. The famous fashion designer Coco Chanel made this point in a quotation. Would you please help me to find a citation?.

Quote Investigator: Coco Chanel (Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel) died in 1971, and in that same year, French journalist Marcel Haedrich published “Coco Chanel: Secrète” which included a section listing quotations ascribed to Chanel titled “Elle disait” (“She said”). The following were three of her remarks in the original French. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

En matière de mode aussi, il n’y a que les imbéciles qui ne changent pas d’avis.

La couleur? Celle qui vous va.

Pour être irremplaçable, il faut rester différente.

The translation of Haedrich’s book into English appeared a year later under the title “Coco Chanel: Her Life, Her Secrets”. The three statements above were rendered as follows: 2

That it is only fools who never change their views applies as well in fashion.

What is the best color? The one that most becomes you.

In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

In 1977 “The Quotable Woman: 1800-1975” compiled by Elaine Partnow included an entry for the saying in English and cited Haedrich’s book: 3

In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.
Quoted in Coco Chanel, Her Life, Her Secrets by Marcel Haedrich 1971

In 2003 “Webster’s Dictionary of Quotations” ascribed the saying to Coco Chanel. 4

In 2006 “Treasury of Wit & Wisdom” from the Reader’s Digest Association also credited Coco Chanel. 5

In conclusion, Coco Chanel should receive credit for the French quotation in the 1971 citation based on the testimony of Marcel Haedrich. The English statement is a reasonable translation of the French remark.

Image Notes: Picture of cookie cutter with dough from RitaE at Pixabay. Image has been cropped and resized.

Notes:

  1. 1971, Coco Chanel Secrète by Marcel Haedrich, Chapter 21: Coco au travail, Section: Elle disait, Quote Page 308, Éditions Robert Laffont, Paris. (Verified with scans)
  2. 1972, Coco Chanel: Her Life, Her Secrets by Marcel Haedrich, Translated from French to English by Charles Lam Markmann, Chapter 21: Coco at Work, Section: She Said, Quote Page 255, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, Massachusetts. (Verified on paper)
  3. 1977, The Quotable Woman: 1800-1975, Compiled and edited by Elaine Partnow, Entry: Coco Chanel, Quote Page 186, Column 1, Corwin Books, Los Angeles, California. (Verified with scans)
  4. 2003, Webster’s Dictionary of Quotations, Topic: Originality, Quote Page 353, Gramercy Books: A Division of Random House, New York. (Verified with scans)
  5. 2006, Treasury of Wit & Wisdom: 4,000 of the Funniest, Cleverest, Most Insightful Things Ever Said, Compiled by Jeff Bredenberg, Topic: Work, Quote Page 190, The Reader’s Digest Association, Pleasantville, New York. (Verified with scans)