Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel was extremely talented as a dressmaker, but what made her a master of the craft was her vision of women. The new movie about her life, Coco Avant Chanel (Coco Before Chanel, in English), shows a girl with a very strong personality, who said out loud whatever popped into her head, but most of all, who thought far outside her own epoch.
Photo from firstshowing
At that time, women in the bourgeoisie were wearing loads of feathers, jewels, laces and were imprisoned in corsets. Coco Chanel (played by Audrey Tautou) grew up in an orphanage with nuns dressed in black and white, which greatly influenced her own style. In her definition of fashion, she stood on austerity, simplicity, and informality, which highlights the beauty of women far better than much too frilly outfits. Throughout the film, Chanel rejects the normal fashion of the time by wearing men’s shirts and pants, or a very simple plaid dress to go to the ball. It’s Chanel’s philosophy in a nutshell. Even in her pajamas, Chanel radiates style and elegance, as one of her love interests in the film tells her. This is one of the great qualities of this movie – it’s not only about fashion. The director, Anne Fontaine, is far more interested in Chanel’s love stories and how they gave her the consciousness of who she wanted to be. Fontaine describes the French society of the early 20th century very well, especially the ambiguity and difficulty of trying to be an independent woman in that time.
You’ll also find many current trends in the movie, like the boater, the sailor t-shirt, bows, and sequins, with different stories behind them. The beautiful and Chanel-inspired costumes are a way to support Chanel’s point of view; what she hates to see women wear, and what she actually wants. Tautou gives a great performance, catching the construction of a very strong self and the special gaze Chanel had on everything around her, celebrated in the last scene of the movie during the first runway show. This summarizes who Chanel was – someone who saw women’s liberation before it happened in society or in fashion. This is why she inspired her century, and continues to do so even today.
It will be playing in San Francisco on October 2nd and Albany Twin on October 9th. Check out www.songclassics.com/cocobeforechanel/dates.html for exact time and dates. And, of course, stay tuend for BARE's next outing!