So, I realize I am probably the last sewing blogger in existence to see this film. But I finally did! It's still playing at the Paris Theater (very appropriate, non?) here in New York, and it is so worth seeing. It's visually mesmerizing, and it made me want to bob my hair and traipse about in some slinky men's pajamas, a tailored jacket, and high heels. (But then I realized that no one can pull off that look like Audrey Tautou.)
The menswear looks were just so chic, and they made up the majority of Coco's bold wardrobe.
Coco was set in sharp contrast to the "painted lady" look of her time. She ridicules these women, comparing their jewelry to silverware and their hats to meringues. To be honest, I thought perhaps her message was being hammered home just a little too strongly, that she protested a tad too much. (Not that it stopped me from enjoying the movie.)
The film goes out of its way to highlight her subversive sexuality. During two separate steamy scenes, her lover makes very telling comments about undressing her: "I've never undressed a boy before" and "You're always so easy to undress." Interesting, eh? Homoeroticism and easy access = hot, apparently.
I loved seeing the inspirations for her famous looks, like when she swipes one of her English boyfriend's polo shirts. When he goes to reclaim it, she asks, enthralled, "What is the material?" "Jersey," he replies. It's fun seeing this from our modern vantage point, when we know that Chanel will later revolutionize women's wear with the use of wool jersey.
In another moment of inspiration, Coco watches a group of fisherman in striped sweaters hauling in nets from the sea. And what does she wear in the next scene? You guessed it.
The sewing moments are also fascinating. At one point, we witness Coco drawing a pattern freehand onto some rich black fabric. A swipe of chalk, and she improvises the sleeve cap! Incredible.
When Coco at last wears her iconic ivory and black boucle suit at the end, I admit that it was somehow a little disappointing compared to her daringly subversive earlier looks. My disappointment surprised me, considering that's the look Chanel is associated with. It should have been the perfect visual conclusion to the film. And then I realized: through my modern eyes, that suit symbolizes a sort of prim, conspicuous wealth - not iconoclasm. As one of my movie-going companions put it at the end of the film,"It's interesting how the Chanel empire now stands for everything that Coco was against." Couldn't have said it better myself.
How about you, lovely readers? Have you seen this, or are you planning to?