Coco avant (before) Chanel is an appropriate title for this film as it is based on the life of Gabrielle Chanel before she became Coco Chanel, and famous as a great fashion designer.
The film, directed by Anne Fontaine, is elegant and restrained as were the clothes Coco Chanel designed. Audrey Tatou is luminous as Coco Chanel, and the story could be said to be another of a penniless girl, who, overcoming all the odds set against her, became a fashion icon. I felt for Gabrielle as life seemed to have left her emotionally crippled and unable to love, yet she rose above this to develop her talent for creative fashion. She never married.
Her Chanel suit, with the boxy jacket trimmed with braid, became a fashion favourite. In fact, it still is. I saw one in the Bay on Bloor Street, Toronto, just yesterday. It is one of my own personal favourites. Her clothes were elegant, almost masculine, with masculine tailoring, for strong women, not frothy and frilly for "girls". She invented "the little, black dress"; multiple strings of pearls; and Chanel No 5, still one of the most popular perfumes. The modern Chanel No 5 has a different fragrance from the original, reflecting the modern woman's desire for an elusive essence, one not designed to hit others between the eyes.
I had been looking forward to seeing this film, and enjoyed it. I did wish that the fashion show that heralded her success in the Paris fashion world had been less discreet, so that we could have enjoyed the lovely gowns. But, of course, the emphasis was on Chanel, not the fashions.