Sunday, August 31, 2014

Freedom is Never Out of Style in Coco Chanel

"Women have to dress for themselves, not for the pleasure of their men."

I admire who this was, her agenda: to fashion clothes that allowed women to work, to breathe, to move as freely as men, to live.

I've always found some of her fashions a bit drab and shapeless, but there was a war on for a while there, you know.

This is the second movie I've watched about Coco. The first was Coco Before Chanel. I didn't care for it. It was about her being a mistress to a wealthy aristocrat and being snubbed by society and then it just kinda ended. While this one has her life as a mistress, it also gets a lot more into detail about the start-up of her business, the crescendo of her success. She goes from the orphanage, to a seamstress's shop, to being a man's mistress, to hatmaker, to....Coco, suffering broken hearts and abandonment the entire way.

From what I can find though, a lot of things were left out. Not a single movie has touched on her being accused of being a Nazi spy/informer during WWII. That's interesting and something I want to hear more about. The focus always seems to be her romance with Etienne and in this case, Boy.

The actress Coco
The movie goes back and forth between old Coco, Shirley MacLaine in the late fifties(?) or early sixties, and to young Coco, played by a woman (Brigitte Boucher) who looks very much like a young Sally Field. Most of it was the young Coco, so I'm not sure why the star is considered Shirley. I think they should have made the young girl the star, as I almost didn't watch this movie in the first place. A near-death's-door Coco didn't interest me.

What did interest me was how Coco revolutionized women's fashion during WWI. There's one scene in particular in which this stuck-up designer for the elite complains that her clothes are basically for the working woman. And Coco heartily agrees. Her clothes are for ALL women, working, upper class, etc. As during this time, women's servants were quitting/leaving and women had to dress themselves. And the poor were hard at work and needed to move. It was also just really neat to watch the fashions change as this movie played on.

Did you know she started as a hatmaker in a third-floor apartment in Paris that apparently felt like the North Pole?

The real Coco
I really enjoyed her romance with Boy too. I probably wouldn't have liked him in real life, mind you, but the this actor and this script...well, until he goes to England, I was rather in love with him myself. *sigh* And that's a compliment from me as I'm not that gaga about romance.

This having been made for TV (Lifetime), the sex scenes are tasteful and contain no blatant nudity. This version of Coco is also a lot more likable than the one in Coco Before Chanel.

Long review short, this two-hour and ten-minute movie is def worth watching. It nicely sums up the beginning of Coco's success. Could it have had more? Yes, I'd have liked to have gone into WWII. But I enjoyed this very much. Perhaps C.W. Gortner's upcoming 2015 release Mademoiselle Chanel will get into more detail outside of the romance.

I rented this on Prime.

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