I thought I had a good handle on the woman, the legend, Coco Chanel: Gabrielle, a magical seamstress, androgynous, smoker. Little did I know when I sat down to see Coco Before Chanel that I was going to embark on an emotional roller coaster — beautiful, deep, tear-inducing.

Naturally, a big part of the film is the wardrobe, but don't go expecting extravagance. Remember, this is Coco before Chanel, when she would make hats at home and sew her clothes out of her lover's closet. Menswear influences — bow-ties, vests, bowler hats — are major players. Pearls and tweed came much later; perhaps there should be a sequel, Coco After Chanel.


Read my review and see more photos.

Beyond Coco's fashion, I learned so much about the person behind the fame. Actress Audrey Tautou did an exceptional job — was I really staring at Coco? Without giving too much away, here's what you are in for: Coco's relationship with her sister, her bouts of love and lust, Coco as a cabaret singer, against feminine dressing, the rebel. In the end, you get a short glimpse of her success, but not much, not enough.

A few memorable Coco Before Chanel moments stuck with me weeks after seeing the movie. Unlike all the other women of her time, Coco thought it was better to imagine breasts than to see them. Sacré bleu! She had two lovers — one who was her soulmate and one who gave her access to the good life — which would influence her throughout her career. Coco, it's nice to finally meet you . . . tormented, talented, rebellious, beautiful.


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