The Improbable Return of Coco Chanel – January 11 at 1:00 pm

Richard Parker photo

The Maury Loontjens Memorial Library (Narragansett) and the Narragansett Historical Society will jointly present a free lecture and book signing by long-time Narragansett resident Richard Parker.  Mr. Parker, a RISD graduate, accomplished writer and artist and former New York Mad Man, will give a talk about his experiences as Coco Chanel’s special assistant when she returned to the business world in New York City after retiring from her long and illustrious career.   The event will take place Sunday, January 11, 2015 at 1:00 pm at the Maury Loontjens Memorial Library. (Registration is not required)

Coco Chanel was one of the world’s most successful business women, creating a word-wide fashihon empire.  Numerous books, documentaries and articles havve been written about her, many of which were not fully accurate.  Richard sets the record straight, and has desribed his experience in working as her special assistant as the most interesting and rewarding of all of his many fascinating experiences.  He said she was a genius and that …”she could charm the birds out of trees.”  Mr, Parker shares in detail how, in her seventies, Coco Chanel returned to fame after her years in retirement.  He writes of the politics and internal issues he encountered while helping Coco Chanel create the successful new Chanel showroom in Manhattan, an effort that led to reestablishing Chanels’ leading position in the European fashion world.

Richard Paker is a Dean’s List graduate from RISD and a veteran of WWII.  After graduating from RISD he moved to New York and became a freelance artist.  Among his well-known clients were Bonwit Teller, J.P. Stevens and Lee Jeans.  Movie tie-ins at Stevens with Warner Brothers included Camelot and Francis Ford Coppola’s Finian’s Rainbow.  These were so succcessful that Warner Brothers invited Paker to join them for their 50th anniversary at the Cannes Film Festival.  After taking early retirement, Mr. Parker became a successful painter, and for 25 years served as a docent and Chairman of the Docent Council of the Museum of Art at RISD, among many other post-retirement accomplishments.