“Chanel invented the 20th century for women.” That was the grand claim made about legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel by Diana Vreeland, editor in chief of Vogue in the 1960s. Coco Before Chanel, French director Anne Fontaine’s lavish biopic, however, goes back to Chanel’s early years to show how, before she invented the century – by revolutionising fashion – she first invented herself.
Dumped in an orphanage at an early age, Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel clawed her way out of the provinces, first working as a seamstress and as half of a cabaret double-act with her sister, before her affairs with a louche aristocrat (Benoit Poelvoorde) and a wealthy English businessman (Alessandro Nivola) gave her the opportunity to make her first steps in the world of fashion.
In the lead role, Audrey Tautou does her best to convey the steely resolve that enabled Chanel to pull herself up from nothing, but shades of Amélie’s cuteness soften her portrayal.
Released on 23rd November.
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