Thursday, December 3, 2009

Coco Avant Chanel

I watched a wonderful movie last week about Chanel's
life before her fame and fortune. I really enjoyed it.
The movie gave some insight into the early years of
Chanel's life and really hits home just how far ahead of
her time she was when it came to fashion, comfort and
easy elegance. She, was a very elegant woman.

Audrey Tautou (from the movie
Amelie) plays young Chanel.

Here's a side by side photo of Chanel and Audrey Tautou.

Some stills from the movie. Can you imagine how eccentric
people thought she was for wearing mean's clothing? You
must remember that Gabrielle Chanel was born in 1883
and became 21 years of age around the turn of the century.
Women back then did not simply strut around in men's

Alessandro Nivola plays the love of her life who was Arthur "Boy" Capel.
Both "Boy" and Chanel had other lovers as well but Boy seemed to be the
one that Chanel loved most. Boy also financed her first shop in Paris and
she borrowed greatly from his closet for inspiration. Since 99% of the
movie is in French, Alessandro had to learn French for the movie.
Alessandro is an American actor who was born in Boston. He is very
dashing and appropriately intense in the movie.

Coco Chanel with Cecil Beaton in 1937.

This was the only real picture of Arthur "Boy" Capel
that I could find. He was an English Polo player who
was also a politician and self made businessman.

I really love this image from the movie as it
depicts Chanel so elegantly in her workspace.

This is a very old photograph of a very young Coco.

Chanel always had this way of mixing masculine
and feminine style together effortlessly.

All of her portraits are just stunning. Not in the flat out
sexy feel that Marilyn Monroe had but a true kind of
elegance, chic and just plain coolness.

Back then, it was chic to smoke and Chanel definitely
smoked A Lot. Many of her famous portraits and
photos show her with a cigarette hanging out of her
mouth - even while working and pinning models.
Now that I think about, I don't see many photos of
her without a cigarette in hand.

I love this portrait of Coco. It's a very unique angle that
shows off her profile. It was either a popular angle back
then or Chanel just really knew how to pose. I think Chanel
really knew how to pose...I'm not sure I've seen a bad photo
of her.Another photo of young Chanel.

This one with short wavy hair. She cut her hair at
a time when short hair wasn't fashionable. During
the 1930's, you had the "flappers" era of daring and
forward women who bobbed their hair and wore
short skirts. Chanel cut her hair before it had come
into fashion.

Chanel with a straw hat - straw hats that
she brought into fashion for women.

Love the netting. She crossed her arms a lot -
like a man. I don't imagine it was considered
feminine for women to do it back then.

What a cool looking pose. She's like the epitome
of cool. The female version of James Dean.

I love this candid photo of her. She just always
looked so relaxed - very much so in her own skin.

I think this this book is one of the best books about
Chanel as it combines her life story with beautiful
photographs of her, her life and and her work. It's
a bit pricey but well worth it if you're looking for an
informative and beautiful book about Chanel.

In the past, I've blogged about Coco Chanel's apartment
above her flagship store and her suite at the Ritz in Paris.
Check them out if you're interested.

Coco Chanel's Paris Ritz Suite Part I

Chanel's 2007 Campaign - Keira Knightly

Photos from the UK's Guardian, Getty
Images and various Google Image sources.