FRENCH designer Coco Chanel collaborated with the Nazis during World War II as a spy code-named Westminster, according to a new book about her life.
Sleeping With The Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War claims that not only was the designer the lover of a German officer, Hans Gunther von Dincklage, but they were spies who went on missions to Madrid and Berlin.
"Chanel was more than just a Nazi sympathiser and collaborator. She was a numbered Nazi agent working for Abwehr, Germany's military intelligence agency," publisher Alfred A. Knopf said.
But a fashion house spokesman poured doubt on the book's allegations.
"What's certain is that she had a relationship with a German aristocrat during the war. Clearly it wasn't the best period to have a love story with a German even if Baron von Dincklage was English by his mother and she knew him before the war," said a Chanel group statement.
The fashion house also disputed that the designer was anti-Semitic.
But the book draws on English, French, German and American archives to claim Chanel, whose menswear-inspired designs propelled her to become one of the most influential figures in fashion, went on missions with Dincklage and others to help recruit new German agents.
It gives her Abwehr agent number as F-7124 and code-name as Westminster, named after the Duke of Westminster with whom she had a love affair. She died in Paris in 1971, aged 87.