Saturday, November 7, 2009

What a woman....

Just saw "Coco Avant Chanel" which means "Coco Before Chanel" or Chanel before Chanel became a famous designer. Admittedly, the film was a bit slow in the early years. Touching, as she and her sister were unceremoniously dropped off at the orphanage by their heartless father. Then lingering too long, in the time period just before Chanel met her true love, Boy Capel. There was just a tiny bit of designing going on at that point, a few chapeaux, a few menswear remakes. My heart soared just before the film ended when she finally donned some pearls and red lipstick as she pinned and fretted about her creations on live models. Worth mentioning is the scene where the Little Black Dress was born...

What has truly stayed with me though, is the woman Chanel was. A lost waif with soulful eyes as she traversed the orphanage, always pinning for the father who never came back. And in her young woman years, I wept inside for her! Without many options for women of the Belle Epoche, I could feel Chanel's despair at not knowing what to do with her life or how a woman who was not traditionally beautiful could make a liveable wage.

However, Chanel triumphs and makes her life a blessing. She was unique in her simplicity at a time when women were still wearing corsets, heavy fabrics, and enormous hats with plummage. Chanel brought a welcome freedom to dress. The film touched on how she began designing with jersey and the influence the garb of fishermen had on her creations!

I adored the men's style silk pajamas Chanel wore instead of the virginal bastiste nightgowns of her contemporaries. I loved her tweed overcoat and straw boater which was in striking contrast to the long dresses with attached trains that contained layers of heavy fabrics that the other women wore. This contrast showed how refreshing Chanel's designs must have felt for the women who flocked to her for new clothes.

And happily, Chanel was really loved by Capel (before he was tragically killed in an automobile accident). Capel encouraged Chanel and recognized her talent. Although, he married someone else, Capel pushed Chanel to have a successful career at a time when beautiful women simply married for money and homely women became governesses.

Chanel Avant Chanel was not a great film but was an interesting one which finally came alive in the last half hour. But most importantly, I admire Chanel because she was a woman who lived by her own lights despite having been abandoned, abused and used, having the inherent sad knowledge that she would never marry, and experiencing the death of her one great love. And yet, she continued to put one foot in front of the other to reach rare heights of fame and fortune. And I absolutely and wholeheartedly adore her style and this was reinforced by this visually stunning film.

Now where did I put my pearls......

1 comment:

  1. I cannot wait to see this, but I doubt that it will come to my little town. As soon as the DVD becomes available, I will certainly buy it. Thank you for the review!