Toto Koopman’s Story is One for the Books


French author Jean-Noël Liaut is exploring the life of Catharina Koopman for his latest book, The Many Lives of Miss K.: Toto Koopman—Model, Muse, Spy.

For his 11th book, Liaut is rediscovering the mystery that is Koopman’s life. The one time model for Coco Chanel that wore Shiaparelli in her free time was a spy for the Allies, an inmate in Ravensbrück, longtime girlfriend of art dealer Erica Brausen, and an archaeologist. Makes for a pretty interesting novel, right?

“She was a free spirit,” the author told Women's Wear Dailyof his subject who died at age 82 in 1991. “She was fascinating for many different reasons. She spoke five languages fluently, she was a brilliant wit, she was beautiful, but it’s more than that. All of her friends are still completely captivated by her—the glamorous outsider.”

She and Brusen would entertain friends like Alexander Korda, Luchino Visconti, the Duchess of Devonshire, Joan Miró, Alberto Giacometti, Peter Brook, Pierre Boulez, Lee Miller, and Bruce Chatwin.

“She was a living mystery, at the same time as she was a social animal,” says Liaut. “Toto was full of interesting contradictions. She embraced tradition while also rejecting it. While working on this book, I began to think that [by comparison], much of the world is gray, goody-goody, and sadly limited.”

Liaut has already penned tomes about writer Karen Blixen, designer Hubert Givenchy, model/actress Natalie Paley and antiques dealer/decorator Madeline Castaing. The Many Lives of Miss K.: Toto Koopman—Model, Muse, Spy will be available October 1st.