Movie – Coco Before Chanel

It’s amazing that not much has been made of Coco Chanel until now but there are 2 more films to come so the movie industry has caught up.

Ms Chanel was born in 1883 and yet has a fantastic impact in today’s fashion world, over 30 years after her death. Today, no-one can deny the loveliness of Chanel style, the very image of elegant chic.

Every girl covets a Chanel jacket, real or influenced-by and co-incidentally I have just read a piece in the weekend’s FT magazine (don’t ask) about investment jackets and recognised a modern day Chanel the second I laid just 1 eager eye on it.

What struck me in the film was that Ms Chanel was not a lovely as I expected, or was that just the usually delightful Audrey Tautou who played her? I guess that’s just young French women because she sure blossomed in the last scenes of the film showing her first collection fully made up and glamorous. I for one wouldn’t be without my Chanel skincare range and the occasional use of a luxurious red lipstick but Ms Chanel didn’t have access to those Chanel products at the time.

What is appalling for such an independent, confirmed bachelor, lady is that back in the early 1900s, she still had to rely financially on a man to set up her initial hat making then fashion design business. Even as feminist who reluctantly let herself fall in love, there seemed to be no other way – well not as rapid anyway. She becomes a lowly mistress of a wealthy father-figure after a chance meeting when singing in a bar with her sister and the turning up on his doorstep and gradually edging herself into rent-free lodger status. Until she fell in love with a man who was destined to marry another for social status and money but preferred to be in love with his mistress and not necessarily his wife.

Whilst singing, the sisters were also working as seamstresses, having both been abandoned at an orphanage by their parents. Once she was living with the French gent, after her sister moved away to (she thought) marry a Baron, she started making hats for his many lady friends before the designing started.

I was only disappointed the film was wholly about before this point but it was good nevertheless. We’ll have to see what the other films bring.  7½/10   Smile factor 7½/10

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