Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I went to a screening of Coco Before Chanel last night. (Merci E!)

I noticed a good few women there were wearing ropes of pearls or were dressed in black, and I admit even I re-pedicured my toes with Rouge Noir. Something about Coco Chanel makes you feel she would be perfectly capable of rising from the dead to give you a good bollocking for seeing 'her' film improperly groomed. Thankfully, Audrey Tautou was perfectly capable of inhabiting the role of Coco, almost spookily so. I loved her in it and Benoît Poelvoorde as Etienne Balsan was like a charm missile.

In one of the first reviews of the film I read, Alessandro Nivola (who plays Boy Capel) said that when they were filming in Paris, every time he walked down rue des Archives (gayer than gay street in the Marais) sporting the moustache he has in the film people would keep going "Allo Freddie Mercury!" And that was really all I could think of every time I saw him and his 'tache.

The main theme is Coco's early love life (which continued to be extraordinary - no wonder more than one film is being made about it) but the costumes, even more so than the story, tell you how and why she rose to such legendary status. I have also read her biography by Edmonde Charles-Roux which explains how the strict dress code and the nuns at the catholic orphanage she was sent to influenced her rigorously simple style. Some of those details were more subtly suggested in the film, but may have been more obvious to me because I already knew.

What was really fun for me was to see visually recreated this woman striding about in trousers and a mens' boater or a striped marinière top tied with a simple black ribbon, when all the other women are wearing elaborate hats and corsets with long sweeping dresses; so brave and sure of herself (to all appearances), yet totally alone. She was way ahead of the wave and able to infiltrate high society and convince everyone to follow her way.

As Coco herself said;
'In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.'
Although the film doesn't really focus on the House of Chanel years, it struck me again that what we all still think of as the height of elegance and chic is what she made popular. No one has replaced her.

{1st photo: It's Audrey, it's Coco, it's Audrey. 2nd photo: Coco in the 1920s}

p.s. Thanks for your wishes, Lola is feeling a bit better today.


Lauren said...

Enjoyed reading this immensely!

Lauren x

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Anything Chanel is heaven ! I do hope Lola gets better very soon ...... horrible time for you both .

Anonymous said...

first of all...happy to hear that lola is doing better!! (god these things give you such a scare!) and secondly...i have no idea when it will come here?? and thirdly...i do love alessandro nivola! (he was so great in "junebug" and also in "goal", the tv series...;))

Rose said...

very glad Lola is getting better

you're so lucky to have seen it- thanks very much for the review!

Sneaky Magpie said...

Just finished reading the biography last week and enjoyed it very much. Can wait for the film!

Madelene said...

Do you know of any genuine 'english' cafés in London, that are reasonably priced and not too touristy? Most seem to be either italian or french inspired..

Gracie said...

I must must see this.


r said...

looking forward to seeing this to!

NewYorkChique said...

I wrote a post about her once, she's one of my favorite actresses!

Anonymous said...

cannot WAIT to see this!!!!!

SO glad Lola is on the mend--

bisous, E

Anonymous said...

my god, I can't believe I haven't been visiting this blog for a whole week, and look what happens?? Poor Lola... I wish she gets better very very soon.