Dezign Darling
Random musings from moi about fashion, pop culture, food and design.
Coco avant Chanel
Categories: Fashion, TV / Film


A well made biopic film which was also chic, and this probably did more justice in terms of paying homage to a woman who broke the mould. In comparison to Confessions of a Shopaholic, another film in the fashion genre, it doesn’t focus too heavily on things like trends or celebrity.


If you know Chanel then chances are you’ll know about the signature classics created by the French designer: the box tweed jacket, the signature style of the interlocking C’s, rows upon rows of pearl necklaces, the quilted chain bag, and not forgetting the skirt suits too. Audrey Tatou is the lucky actress to be playing the famous French designer, who also starred in Priceless, Amelie and The Da Vinci Code. And now she is also the new face of Chanel No.5, the lucky girl! The film itself was witty, blunt and confident, the portrayal of Coco Chanel as a person before a designer made her a charming and unique character. Audrey Tatou is a brilliant actress who brings this to life.

Focusing on Coco Chanel, the film’s story develops as our heroine tries to make her way in a man’s world as the film is set in the early 20th Century. She first meets Etienne Balsan, a rich playboy and stays with him and eventually gets a chance to enter French high society. Later she meets Arthur “Boy” Capel, and this is where the romance really begins. Amidst all the commotion of being a mistress to one man and switching to being a lover to the next, we see glimpses of Coco’s designing and tailoring talents. A window with a view along with a promising talent, to build a different kind of empire in the fashion world. Probably influenced by the two men in her life, and the missions she set herself on, Coco’s designs early designs were inspired by menswear.


It was ironic that she chose to remain a mistress instead of becoming a wife, thus making the two men in her life become smitten with her – because they couldn’t have her. I would have loved to see the romance between Coco and Boy to carry on despite his character, because he treats her well unlike Balsan, her benefactor of sorts. Balsan lives in a gigantic house that resembles an elaborate castle, with baroque and chic décor. One of my favourite scenes was the drunken game of cat and mouse in the garden. Hilarious! I especially liked the part where it was the morning after, and the dishevelled guests, strewn all over the estate, were served tea and breakfast in the garden. It was cute how Boy and Coco were snuggled up under a tree. The fashion show shown towards the end of the film was amazing, displayed to great effect in the mirrored stairwell. Genius. The first dozen outfits were simple and beautifully made, gorgeous and of course très chic. The collections reflect Coco Chanel’s thirst for freedom and independence, offering women comfort and chic elegance in rebelling against conforming. The woman herself is known by fashionistas alike to be one of the few brave enough to start a revolution; she made it ‘cool’ to have a tan, at a time when skin colour was the main factor in showcasing one’s status and wealth in society. She wore trousers and dressed like a boy, instead in being confined to corsets and pretty dresses.

If you missed it this is one film you should really watch, because you too will be enchanted by the portrayal of this French icon’s loves and life – of Coco Before Chanel.

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