5 unmissable works on the fashion icon

She never called herself a feminist, but revolutionized the figure of women. Let’s talk about Gabrielle Chanel, better known by the stage name of Coco Chanel, one of the most popular stylists ever whose 140th anniversary is celebrated this year. From a poor family, she spent her childhood in a nuns’ orphanage and it was there that Gabrielle learned to sew. The love of her life, Boy Capel, encouraged her to open her first shops, but unfortunately she died at a young age in a car accident. After her disappearance, Coco concentrated solely on work bringing the Chanel brand to the pinnacle of success.

Today Chanel is synonymous with perfume, the timeless N°5, but also with the famous little black dress as well as the quilted handbag with chain shoulder strap and jersey, a fabric that until 1916 was unthinkable to be used to make women’s clothes. Behind all these innovations and revolutions, there has always been a figure who himself represented a revolution for the time. Strong, independent, proud and against the tidecharacteristics that cinema has not failed to tell. Big and small screen reminded Coco Chanel in various forms, through films, mini-series and even short films. Let’s discover them together.

Coco Avant Chanel – Love before the myth

Surely the most famous film dedicated to the queen of French fashion, available on Netflix and currently among the most watched films on the platform (together with Harry Potter and we also explain why the films of the saga have conquered Netflix), a sign of the eternal topicality and influence of this figure. She dates back to 2009 and to interpret her we find Audrey Tatou who, in those years, was definitely in her golden age.

Her appreciable performance and the physical resemblance to the real Coco Chanel helps her and not a little in identifying herself. The film covers a fairly large span of young Gabrielle’s life, focusing especially on childhood and her life before becoming famous, but also on the loves that have marked his existence, Étienne de Balsan and Boy Capel. Director Anne Fontaine is concerned that her Coco will come out as she really was in the story, i.e. a woman who, under the guise of a fragile and defenseless creature, is actually resolute, determined and capable of going her own way. not wanting to be dependent on anyone, especially the men who ruled the society. From a directorial point of view, the film lacks in giving an atmosphere as strong and decisive as its protagonist, but the returned portrayal and character writing are pleasing and truthful.

Coco Chanel

There is also a bit of Italy in the productions dedicated to the French designer. In fact, the two-part television miniseries Coco Chanel dates back to 2008, co-produced by our country in collaboration with France and the United States. Telling a story through the format of the television miniseries allows you to expand the time perspective on a character’s life, especially thanks to the use of flashback. In fact, to impersonate Coco in old age we find Shirley McLaine, while as a young woman our local Barbara Bobulova and as a child Rosabell Laurenti Sellers.

Director Christian Duguay brings to life ad a more complete Cocoshowing with respect to Fontaine’s film, the role and influence that the First World War had on her and her work or taking a leap into the 1950s, the period of decline of Mademoiselle Chanel. The personality of the woman is also the cornerstone of this productionperfectly transposed.

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky

There was a singular concentration of films on the French designer between 2008 and 2009. Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky was chosen as the closing feature for the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. Unlike its predecessors, the film directed by Jan Kounen focuses on a particular episode in the life of the fashion icon or her alleged affair with the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. The two met in the late 1920s, when Coco had the opportunity to create costumes for a new performance of the Rite of Spring with the Paris Ballets Russes classical dance company.

Based on the fictional novel Coco & Igor by Chris Greenhalgh the film had the support of the maison and then director Karl Lagerfeld. To interpret Stravinsky we find Mads Mikkelsen, while in the role of Coco the actress Anna Mouglalis. An elegant biopic which in its classicism – and perhaps banality – offers an unprecedented point of view on Coco.

Coco Mademoiselle

Here we are faced with a real short film that you will certainly remember, reduced to one minute or a few seconds for advertising purposes. Indeed, Coco Mademoiselle actually is the glossy TV spot starring Keira Knightley as a modern version of the designer because of the wonderful jumpsuit designed by Karl Lagerfeld, but integrates the free and independent spirit that distinguished the real Coco.

We see her riding a motorcycle and roaming the streets of Paris, simulating the need expressed in life by women to be equated to the male figure in many aspects of everyday life: from riding like a man to wearing clothes that were comfortable, but at the same time elegant and not constrictive corsets, feathers and bulky skirts as dictated by the Belle Époque era. The short is part of a series created by Joe Wright, a director who knows the actress well, having directed her in several films. Definitely on this list an “outsider” of a few minutes, but decidedly essential.

Chanel Solitaire

Coco Chanel died in 1971 and ten years later director George Kaczender directed Chanel Solitaire, film whose title hides yet another aspect of the designer. Precisely for her being against the tide of her for the era in which she lived, proud and with an enviable firmness in ideas and values, she often found herself alone in fighting society. Furthermore, as far as love affairs are concerned, she was certainly not lucky.

The film mainly focuses on Coco’s youth, while her career is deliberately overshadowed, as is the more whimsical side of her personality. The cast is respectable: Marie-France Pisier, Timothy Dalton, Rutger Hauer and Brigitte Fossey, but none of them manages to save a film with a laudable intent, but with a mediocre result.

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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