COCO CHANEL was ''unquestionably'' private.

Canadian-born photographer, Douglas Kirkland, was invited to the designer's Parisian home for three weeks in 1962 to take photos for the picture magazine 'Look', and has reminisced about the enigmatic character, admitting he doesn't understand why he opened up to him because she was so secretive.

When asked if she was a private person, he replied: ''Unquestionably, but she opened herself up to me in an unusual way. I still haven't 100 percent determined what it was even until this day... she seemed to take me in. I sometimes said to myself: 'was I the son that she never had or the memory of a distant lover in her past?'''

The Chanel founder passed away eight years later at the age of 87, but Douglas, now 80, said he could see she was becoming weary even during his visit because she complained her hands were ''tired''.

He recalled: ''To see her working, creating a dress or a coat - it was almost like seeing a wonderful sculpture being moulded with her hands. She used her hands; she did it herself. She preferred it.

''There's a picture I have where you see her hands working very closely, and her hands look quite tired. She said: 'my hands look like they are because they are tired. They've seen so much. This is how I speak.' That was, for me, very important words.''

The prominent photographer has since gone on to take pictures of stars such as Brigitte Bardot, Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson and Charlie Chaplin, but still counts his experience with the iconic designer as a turning point in his life.

He told Marieclaire.co.uk: ''During this three-week period my life changed enormously.''