Coco avant Chanel is a movie about Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel. A figure we can’t just put aside when it comes to women fashion nowadays. It was Coco who freed women from tight corset (thank God!) and unhandy gowns with trains. She also simplified women’s hat.
The film begins (tremendous work of Audrey ‘Amélie’ Tautou, good casting, Tautou ressembles Chanel) with a scene of father Chanel who leaves his two daughters at an orphan. Gabrielle and Adrienne Chanel earn money by singing the song Coco du Trocadéro in a Café Chantant (brothel?). There Gabrielle meets Etienne Balsan who starts to call her Coco.
Ambitious as she is, Coco wants to make it in Paris as a singer (variété). Instead she strands at Balsan’s Castle with no money and decides to live there. Observing the bourgeois who visit Balsan almost everyday, young eccentric Coco wants to simplify the way women dress at that time. She starts to modify her own clothes and simplify the hats. The androgynous Chanel style is born.
Although she lives under Balsan’s roof, she is not in love with him. This love she finds in Boy Capel, a British gentleman whom she passionately in love with.
You see a scene when Coco goes dancing in a casino in Deauville, Bretagne for a dinner dansant. This is the time when the very first la petite robe noire is born. During this scene we get to know her love of wearing Breton stripes t-shirt (see pic below). After settling down business wise in Paris shown by scenes of her cutting tweed for the famous Chanel deux piéces, pied au poule prints, you see a detail of her atelier at Rue Cambon in Paris where Chanel headquarter still stands now. Her mission was simple chic fashion, that clothes must be comfortable for those who wear them.
My review: This movie emphasizes the love life of Coco avant (before) she becomes Chanel. Don’t expect to see a whole life of mademoiselle Chanel cause you only see 2 of many men romantically involved in her life. Yep, the real mademoiselle Chanel was quite a personality, stubborn and really determined in getting what she wanted. She even tried to ignore her background by telling false stories about where she came from. Her famous quote is ‘Je ne fais pas la mode, je suis la mode’ means I don’t make fashion, I am fashion. During her life Chanel made 3 major statements in the fashion world.
This is a portrait of a feminist avant la lettre, the one who was able to love but refused to commit. I recognize much of Samantha Jones’s attitude in Chanel then. As she once said: “Une chose intéressante à l’amour est faire d’amour” meaning one thing interesting about love is making love. She was obviously a genius and had an eye for elegant and chic style. The style which is unseparable of women’s fashion we are all familiar with today.