Breathtakingly gorgeous, Coco Before Chanel was an amazing look at the life of Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel, the pioneering French fashion designer who’s menswear-inspired fashions with expensive simplicity make her one of the most important figures in the fashion industry, ever.
The film began as the quiet young Coco, at the age of 12 years, was dropped at the orphanage of Aubazine where she learned the trade of a seamstress. After six years in the orphanage she left and continued her work as a seamstress by day and a cabaret singer by night. She performed in clubs where the regulars called her “coco” after the songs she used to sing: Vous n’auriez pas vu Coco?
Chanel was a determined young woman. She was tough, hard working, dedicated to her craft and terribly ambitious. While living as a mistress with Étienne Balsan, a French textile heir, she continued her work in the tailoring shop then began designing hats as a hobby. She designed many hats for Balsan’s friend — the theater actress Gabrielle Dorziat which helped her gain recognition as a designer. Her hobby soon turned into a deep interest, a passion that took her to Paris and opened her eyes to the world of fashion.
After becoming a licensed hat maker (modiste) in 1910, Chanel opened a boutique at 21 rue Cambon, Paris named Chanel Modes. She continued to design luxurious hats for Gabrielle Dorziat until the love of her life, Captain Arthur Edward ‘Boy’ Capel, whom she met through Balsan, died it a tragic car accident. The film portrayed Chanel’s devastation as life changing, fully propelling her fashion design. She spent her days and all hours of the night developing her ideas into a career as a fashion designer.
The film’s cinematography was sensational. Each frame was gracefully articulate in color, composition, lighting. Here are a few frames in sequential order.
Watch the trailer and submerse yourself in Coco.