Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Coco Avant Chanel

I've never been a 'dedicated follower of fashion'. I know what I like, and what looks good on me, but because I don't have the figure equivalent to a pencil, I've never been one to fawn over the fashion parade.

There's something different about Chanel though, and I think it's partly to do with the woman behind the creations. The mystery of her, and how she was so different from the other women of her time.
Tonight I went to see 'Coco Avant Chanel', which seems to be kicking of a great Coco fest - there are at least two more films, a biography, and another book from none other than Justine Picardie (she of my 'Daphne' inspired raves). Justine is keeping her cards very close to her chest, but if the passages in 'My Mother's Wedding Dress' are anything to go by, it should be fascinating to say the least.
Sorry - where was I?

I don't want to talk too much about the plot - as the title would suggest, the film focuses on the early period of Chanel's life, before she became a renowned designer. I think I'm developing a passion for French film - there is a simplicity to the dialogue and cinematography that seems to be lacking in most 'blockbusters' at the moment. Audrey Tautou captures the fragility of the young woman, yet also manages to portray the fire that drove her to reach for what she wanted, and not settle for what she was offered. The supporting cast are all well chosen too - I've not heard of any of them, but none of them detracts from what the story is trying to tell you. Costumes, are of course, key; and it's wonderful to contrast the plainly dressed Coco with the opulence that characterised the late Victorian and early Edwardian eras.

The final scene is almost a piece of iconic history. Coco Chanel was (I think) well known for watching her creations go out during shows from the curve in the staircase. When Katharine Hepburn starred in a musical about the woman, she recreated this pose, and now it has come full circle, with Audrey Tautou sitting, in the final shot, on a staircase, whilst her clothes waft past her. That's the way icons are remembered, and this film deserves all the audience it can get. It's like the person it portrays. Simple. And chic.


skirmishofwit said...

What a lovely review! I can't wait to see this film. I've recently discovered your blog and am enjoying it very much.

Sophie said...

I went to see this film at the Phoenix last week (I'm also based in Oxford, so hello!) and loved it too. I'm excited to hear about the upcoming Justine Picardie book - I enjoyed *Daphne* a lot.

oxford-reader said...

Skirmishofwit - Love the name, glad you like the blog! Hope you love the film!
Sophie - Oh good, another Oxford Blogger! I went to see the film again yesterday and it enthralled just as much!