Coco Avant Chanel

I caught this biopic about famed French designer Coco Chanel (1883-1971) at a packed RPL Theatre last night. It stars French actress Audrey Tautou as Chanel, and focuses on the early part of her life. It begins, in fact, with her being dropped off with her sister at a convent at age ten. Raised from that point by nuns (whose austere black habits very definitely influenced her stripped down approach to fashion later in life), Chanel and her sister became cabaret performers after leaving the convent. Both caught the eye of French aristocrats, and lived for a time as kept women. Because of their low social standing, they were not considered to be marriage material, however, and Coco eventually spurned her lover and established herself as a much-sought-after hat and dressmaker in Paris where she began to build her fashion empire. Overall, definitely a film worth seeing, both from a fashion perspective, and for the insight it offers into the class system that existed in pre-WWI Europe. When the 2010 Academy Award nominations are announced Coco Avant Chanel should receive consideration for Best Foreign Language Film. It should also, unfortunately, be a shoo-in for a Hackademy Award (USA Today). Yeah, for that generation of women, smoking was a sign of rebellion. And Chanel was certainly a rebel. But to reinforce that I'm not sure it was necessary to show Tautou with a cigarette in practically every scene. Beauty, fashion, romance and cigarettes--overall, a pretty intoxicating mix. Anyway, here's the trailer for the film which plays tonight at the RPL at 9:15 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. (YouTube)

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