Part of the intrigue of Coco Chanel was that she was a habitual liar and her life story changed each time she told it. Habitual liar is maybe not the correct phrase, but she was a master of creating a persona – one that we are all still obsessed with today so it seems she was quite successful at it, non? Lisa Chaney would like to shed some light on areas that are otherwise clouded and she “claims to have concrete evidence that the designer used drugs, embraced bisexuality and had an affair with Salvador Dalí while he was married.” From that sentence alone I feel like Coco Chanel: An Intimate Life, may read more like a tabloid than a biography but only time will tell. Press copies go out in October so I will let you know then. In the mean time, if you can’t wait, Coco Chanel: An Intimate Life, is available for pre-order now on Amazon.com.
Coco Avant Chanel (Coco Before Chanel in the U.S.) finally hit stateside last week as it makes its way across the globe. You didn’t think that a film about one of France’s most celebrated icons would come and go without Colette doing something special did you?
"Coco Avant Chanel" Exclusive Box Set at Colette
To celebrate the release, Colette has put together a beautiful Coco Avant Chanel Exclusive Box Set with only 100 produced. The box itself is a hat box containing a boater hat from La Maison Michel, a limited edition picture of Gabrielle Chanel, a book of quotations from Coco Chanel, a dvd of the movie Coco Avant Chanel and a Blue Ray collector edition including a booklet depicting the making-of the movie. I want this now! The Coco Avant Chanel Box Set costs €150 and is available on the Colette web shop.
"Coco Before Chanel" Official Poster & Movie Stills
My life is the story – often the tragedy – of a woman on her own, her miseries, her grandeur, her uneven and fascinating struggle against herself, against men, attractions, weaknesses, and dangers that arise from all sides.
Coco Avant Chanel premiered in France earlier this year and now the eagerly anticipated Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel biopic is hitting stateside this Fall. In English speaking countries, the film is dubbed Coco Before Chanel, and like the title indicates, the feature focuses on the formative years that made Coco Chanel the fashion icon that she is today.
The movie opens up with Gabrielle Chanel being dropped off at an orphanage by her father – a glimpse into the sadness and betrayal that she felt from a very early age. Rather than knocking her down, young Gabrielle knew that the world had much to offer, and her resilience and cleverness made her successful, though the road to success was paved with obstacles.
I have always found Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel inspiring. Fashion influence aside, I am most impressed with what she was able to achieve in the time period that she lived. She was born in 1883, during the Belle Époque when corsets and show-piece hats ruled the day. Your family determined your wealthy, social status and whom you could marry. While men could make some efforts to advance through work, at this time, women of status didn’t work. So what’s a girl to do? Chanel did not let her poverty get in her way. Her fierce determination and ambition is what got her ahead – in a time when it was unheard of for women to do so – is what I find most inspiring about Mademoiselle Chanel.
Anne Fontaine, the director of the film, does an excellent job of showing us that it was not an easy road to success. By focusing on her early life and rise to fame, Fontaine helps us understand the woman behind the myth. I think that the director herself is a woman helped bring a sensibility to the portrayal of Chanel’s life that I don’t think a man would have been able to grasp. She elaborates, “It was not so much the fashion as the characteristics of this exceptional woman that interested me. I had been particularly touched by the fact that she was a self-made person.”
Audrey Tautou plays Coco Chanel and I can’t think of anyone that would do the character more justice. A French woman herself, Tautou transforms into Gabrielle Chanel and the resemblance is remarkable. She breathes life into the designer at once being fragile and robust, vulnerable and determined.
“Coco Before Chanel” Movie Stills
And the costuming! Coco Before Chanel was produced with Maison Chanel’s blessing and the company opened up its archives, the Chanel Conservatory, so that actual original pieces could be used in the final catwalk scene (that was filmed on the actual famous mirrored staircase). In fact, she met with Karl Lagerfeld to go over sketches. Regarding her experience designing the costumes for Coco Before Chanel, Catherine Letterier explained:
Chanel’s [style] is instantly recognizable. What Karl Lagerfeld did in adapting the Chanel style to the future, I did backwards towards the past. I went back in time, designing the first models that Chanel might have created and which could have fashioned her style. The Chanel style is distinctive in its cut, the supple hang of its fabric and the perfect simplicity of its finish. The costumes designed for the film had to be up to the exacting standards of haute couture.
Since Chanel started her career in fashion as a milliner, they brought on the best hat makers alive today – Stephen Jones and Pippa Cleator. Coco Before Chanel definitely does not disappoint in bringing the spectacle of fashion in all of it’s glory from the extravagant gaudiness of the Belle Époque to the simplicity of French sailor shirts.
Though the fashion in the film is spot on, a lesson in fashion history it is not. Letterier definitely took artistic license to the extent that the film showed certain looks and pieces well before they actually became part of the Chanel repertoire. For examples, Chanel didn’t focus in on black as a main theme until after the death of Boy Capel in 1919. Before then, black was predominantly worn for mourning. When she invented “the little black” dress she was rumored to have said “I’m going to put the whole world in mourning for him.” (Chanel: A Woman of Her Own, Axel Madsen) Little did she know she was starting a trend that still hold weight today.
The men’s French sailor shirt that she appropriates doesn’t actually happen until the 1930s. The film ends with a fashion show that is essentially a “best of” collection of a lifetime of work. The tweed box suits that figure so prominently didn’t actually come into existence (in that form/style/silhouette) until Chanel’s comeback collection in 1954. However, the artistic license in not conforming to a strict fashion historical time line enhances the story. Though not historically accurate, it’s a testament to the longevity of Mlle. Chanel’s career – spanning decades and trends – as if we are watching her entire career pass us by. The final catwalk scene exemplifies the impact of Coco Chanel, and is so timeless and classic, it looks just as chic today as it did sixty-plus years ago.
There have been several films that have come before such as Chanel Solitaire and Coco Chanel, the Lifetime made-for-television movie – all of which interestingly focus on Chanel’s early life and rise to fame. However, none come close to capturing the true essence of Mademoiselle Chanel the way Coco Before Chanel has. The rare combination of an artistic screenplay, sensitive director and selfless actress have made Coco Before Chanel an excellent film. I will watch this repeatedly because in some way, it will be closest I can ever come to knowing Gabrielle Chanel. Bring plenty of tissues – the story is inspiring but if I said I didn’t shed a tear I’d be lying. The only downside to the film? As a former smoker, watching Coco Before Chanel made me want to run out and smoke cigarettes as elegantly as only Coco Chanel could.
Coco Before Chanel premiers in NY an LA on September 25, 2009, and in the Bay Area on October 2, 2009.
The word is finally out. Coco Avant Chanel is making its way stateside in its English incarnation, Coco Before Chanel. If you’re in LA or NY, you’re lucky because it’s coming out first in those cities on September 25th. Since I’m not in LA or NY, in addition to buying a movie ticket, I also need to buy a plane ticket. You’ve heard me go on and on about Coco Avant Chanel - the rumors, the casting, the behind-the-scenes, the French trailer and the French premier – so I’ll put an end to my gushing and let you take a look at the photo still gallery and trailer below. End Scene.
For anyone that’s a regular M.I.S.S. reader, you know that I’ve been keeping close tabs on the Chanel films coming out this year. Coco Avant Chanel premiered in Paris on Monday night at the Champs-Elysées theater. Audrey Tautou, who plays Coco Chanel in the film, wore a Chanel couture floral bustier dress (um, what else would she wear??). Tautou’s co-star Alessandro Nivola, who plays Chanel’s love interest Boy Capel, was at the premier – though he got rid of the moustache he had to sport for the film. The pair definitely look cute together and I’m guessing they’ll have great chemistry on film.
Coco Avant Chanel Premier in Paris
Coco Avant Chanel documents Chanel’s early life from her childhood in an orphanage and ends with her debut runway show. The film is set to release in the U.S. later in the year – I can’t wait to see it! Images
One can tell from the stills that the creators of the film went through great lengths to make sure the costuming was accurate: Karl Lagerfeld is overseeing the re-creation of the costumes and accessories. And, who better considering he is one of the few people with access to the Chanel archives?
The film is set for release in France on April 22nd and a U.S. release date is not yet set. To see the trailer, check out my previous post.
Eighty-eight years ago, on 05.05.21, Gabrielle Chanel launched her first fragrance – Chanel No.5. Today, Chanel No.5 is still the world’s best selling fragrance and, according to Chanel, “a product in the Chanel No. 5 portfolio is sold every six seconds.” Because of this legacy, Chanel No.5’s advertising is always the pinnacle of ad campaigns.
It’s been several years since Baz Luhrmann and Nicole Kidman teamed up for the Chanel No. 5 mini film. As we’ve previously reported, Audrey Tautou will be the face of the new Chanel No. 5 campaign – and very fittingly, since she is also cast as Gabrielle Chanel herself in Coco Avant Chanel. Directing Ms. Tatuou is long-time collaborator Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who directed her in her breakthrough film, “Amélie.” Tautou admitted that she has refused offers to represent other fragrances, she stated, “I needed to have a connection with the product.”
The full-length Chanel No. 5 film (2.25 minutes) releases on the internet on 05.05.09, but it was also produced in 60, 45 and 30 second versions for television. The “megaproduction” took 3 weeks to film last May, with the help of a crew of 250. The commercial weaves a tale of “missed encounters between strangers” and takes us to locales including Paris, Istanbul, and Nice. The commercial is set to the tune of Billie Holliday’s “I’m a Fool to Want You” and ends with the lovers in a tender embrace standing on a Chanel logo mosaic. Read the full story to see more gorgeous stills from the commercial and see if you can pick up on all the hidden Chanel themes. I can’t wait to see this commercial. If it’s anything like the last 2 Chanel commercials (Kidman’s Chanel No.5 and Knightley’s Coco Mademoiselle), then it’s going to be fabulous!
A few months back we let you know about the film about Chanel’s life, starring Audrey Tatou as Chanel, that’s in the works. The trailer is finally here! From what I can see, this looks like it will do Mademoiselle’s life justice. It’s in French – as it should be. It’s releasing in France on April 22nd and will release later in the U.S. I cannot wait for this!! View the trailer below.
Image of Chanel and Stravinsky, among others, from Chanel and Her World by Edmonde Charles-Roux
If this is not Chanel-mania, I don’t know what is! Last year we saw the Lifetime made-for-tv movie depicting the life of Coco Chanel. In a few months the premier of Coco Avant Chanel will hit theaters. What’s next? Another Chanel film of course! The third in this string of Chanel films depicts the love affair between Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky. Directed by Jan Kounen with Mads Mikkelsen starring as Stravinsky and Anna Mouglalis as Chanel. The duo met in Paris and even worked together on Georges Balanchine’s “Apollon Musagete” – Igor Stravinsky wrote the music and Mlle. Chanel designed the costumes. Chanel and Stravinsky: The Secret Story (working title) releases later this year – stay tuned for updates!
Read below for a synopsis on the backdrop of the film:
Paris 1913, Coco Chanel is devoted to her work and madly in love with the handsome and very wealthy Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel.
At the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Igor Stravinsky premieres his “Rite of Spring”. Coco attends the premiere and is mesmerised. But the revolutionary work is too modern, too radical: the enraged audience boos and jeers. A near-riot ensues. Stravinsky is inconsolable.
Seven years later. Now rich, respected and successful, Coco is devastated by Boy Capel’s death. She meets Stravinsky again – a penniless refugee living in exile in Paris after the Russian Revolution. The attraction between them is immediate and electric.
Read the full story to see more stills from the film.
If you’ve read M.I.S.S. for a minute then you know that I love Chanel. She’s an icon and an inspiration for women striving to achieve their dreams. Lately, you’ve probably hear us talk aboutCoco Avant Chanel, the movie set for release next year starring Audrey Tautou as Mlle. Chanel. Well, it appears the mania is spreading and the Lifetime Network is the next to hop on the band wagon. On Saturday, September 13th at 8pm Lifetime is premiering Coco Chanel, the made-for-television movie depicting the life of Gabrielle Chanel. Barbora Bobulova plays the Chanel of youth and Shirley MacLaine plays the older, wiser Chanel. Now, I’ll watch this because it has to do with Chanel. But, I have to admit that I am less than excited about Shirley MacLaine playing Chanel. I have a giant mental block – I can’t see MacLaine as the sleek, sophisticated and suave Mademoiselle. It seems I’m not the only one, Vogue UK reported that so far, the critics are not impressed. If you’re curious, and want to make your own opinion (advised), tune in to Lifetime on September 13th. You can find more information on the Lifetime movie here.