Last night I finally made it to the last screening of "Coco Avant Chanel" at the DGA Theater here in NY! Seeing a good movie for free is always a yes in my book - especially when not having to suffer through endless commercials and trailers, and when in company with fellow actors/writers who know how to turn off their cell phones as well as to zip up their mouths during the showing. Not to mention, in a theater where snacking and sipping soda is forbidden and there is a security guard in place to reinforce the no-food rule if need be! Call me cranky, but it drives me insane to hear the constant noise of slurping and crumpled candy wrappers when trying to watch a drama - or any kind of film, actually!
I was completely mesmerized by the movie and I would recommend fashionistas, Chanelites as well as any cineaste to go see it when it opens in theaters this weekend. The storyline focuses on Coco's struggles before she moved out of her benefactor's mansion and opened her own atelier on rue Cambon, from where she designed and sold hats to society ladies. Today, 100 years later, the Chanel Paris boutique, Coco's elegant one-of-a-kind apartment, the brand's haute couture atelier and Karl Lagerfeld's study are located at 31 rue Cambon, only steps from where Coco opened her first hat shop.
While not being a couture documentary per se, the film does feature quite a few wonderful fashion moments that all made me smile happily. When Coco packs her belongings for the move to Balsan's estate, a sharp eye can spot her little quilted sewing kit on her bed next to the suitcase, and it looks very much like the 2.55! There are also a couple of adorable scenes, where Coco massacres her lover's shirts and houndstooth pants to create her own, unique clothing. No need to be a Chanel lover, or even to take the slightest interest in fashion whatsoever, to immediately recognize the brand's tailored, crisp style in the garments that Coco conjures up for her riding lessons and introduction to Parisian society life!
Obviously, there is also a lot of beautiful costuming to enjoy. Eudald Magri is the costumer of the film, which features wardrobe designed by Catherine Leterrier and hats designed by legendary London milliner Stephen Jones. I especially loved the crowd scene at the horse derby - I can only imagine the amount of effort that must have gone into the styling of the principals as well as all the extras (easily 150+) who were on camera for those shots!
Last but not least, there is no way I can go see a movie without shedding some tears. Two scenes moved me immensely, the first one being Coco's audition at the Alcazar (any actor, singer or dancer who has been interrupted half-way through will understand what I mean), and the second one being the last few minutes of the movie, with Coco sitting on the staircase overseeing her models walking down the steps, one by one. This one scene alone is worth the price of a movie ticket - and the film is indeed one that needs to be enjoyed in a theater, rather than on Netflix or similar. You should all dress up in your best bouclé, grab your quilted purse and get a ticket for the US opening night on Saturday!
Pictures in this post: Coco Chanel portrait, Chanel SS09 bouclé runway look, sketches by Karl Lagerfeld for Bazaar, Chanel appreciation editorial - ELLE Sweden, Chanel knockoff at H&M, Audrey Tatou in the final scene of "Coco Avant Chanel".
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