It's all Coco Chanel's fault. Really. I'd been a garment-sewer-failure until I saw Coco Before Chanel, starring Audrey Tatou, last fall, and I decided to finally finish the vintage sheath dress that had been languishing half-done in my closet for months. Looking at the dress now, the quality is awful—the seams are unfinished, the straps are too loose, and so forth—but it was my first wearable item from scratch. I wore it to my friend's art show, I started reading sewing blogs, I discovered BurdaStyle. The blog was born. My origin story, thanks to Coco.
And then the boy and I were walking one day to find that Chanel & Stravinsky was playing at the local art theater. As a self-respecting home sewer, I couldn't go to bask in Chanel's persona without handmade threads, so I finished my full-skirt and swished over to the theater in my heels on Saturday night.
Like Coco Before Chanel, this flick is a biopic of sorts, following her affair with composer Igor Stravinsky. This follows the heartbreak we witness in Coco Before Chanel, with the death of Boy Capel. These two actresses—Tatou and Anna Mouglalis—depict Coco Chanel very differently, though it could be interpreted as a woman in two very different times in her life and a World War between them. Both Chanels are fiery, composed, elegant, and unbelievably driven. Mouglalis' Chanel, however, is more tempered on the surface, as a woman who has achieved some success (though in 1920, she wasn't the Chanel she would later become). She's also less playful, smiles and laughs hardly at all in this film, but again, this follows heartbreak and war.
Though I don't have any interest in Chez Chanel today—that type of luxury and all it represents—I'm amazingly attracted to the trail-blazing independence of the woman herself and enjoyed both of these movies immensely. I also love her emphasis on elegance and comfort. The costumes alone make the movie worth seeing.
Costume sketches. Oh, the 1920s. What an era for fashion and women. Mouglalis is incredibly svelte but I've also read that the boyish figure of a 15-year-old girl was considered the ideal figure in this era and these straight-styles reflect that. Everything draped. Low waistlines. As a square-shaped gal, I could take a cue.
Chanel and Stravinsky. It's hard to see in this photo, but the silk camisoles she wore throughout the film were so elegant and versatile. They flattered her small bust by showing off her collarbones and shoulders. They tucked into skirts beautifully. Throw a cardigan or a loose blazer over it, and voila! Tres Chanel.
Chanel is obviously famous for black. In the film, Stravinsky's wife asks if she doesn't like color and she responds, "As long as it's black." And later, when she begins her affair with Stravinsky, she begins wearing white and a friend teases that her perfume (which would later become Chanel No. 5) could be called the Eau de Russie. Apparently, though, after the war (according to the costume designers), there was this shift from black to white. I love how these high contrast details add so much elegance all the while using basic colors. In the movie, they say, "She can even make grief look chic." Indeed, Mme. Chanel makes everyone else look like a bloated peacock.
I just love the intimacy of this photo. Chanel in silk black pajamas.
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