“My life is in transition right now,” says Maureen Chiquet. “I’m trying to figure out who I am.”

Until quite recently, Chiquet was a long-married woman in her middle years with a handsome French husband named Antoine, two daughters who both went to Yale, and a giant white house in the suburbs of New York. She was known, more widely, as the global chief executive of Chanel, the mighty French fashion house/billion-dollar battleship, with its No 5 perfume, its haute couture and its resident artist, Karl Lagerfeld

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