Wednesday, September 17, 2008
We tried to watch the Coco Chanel movie with Shirley MacLaine on Lifetime Television. Not so good, and on the screen permanently on the lower right hand corner was a big Lifetime logo; this is what it said for the entire movie in big white letters: "You are watching Coco Chanel Lifetime Red Carpet Movie Event." I guess at Lifetime they don't think their viewers know what they're watching? I cannot stand those big logos, they are so distracting. My eye goes to it, and the program becomes unwatchable. Those big logos defeat the purpose.
But, Chanel. What a story. She was a French orphan, and grew to become the most influential fashion figure in the twentieth century. Before Chanel, women of the Belle Epoque wore corsets and clothes so highly structured that they could hardly get out of a carriage. Just in time for the automobile, Chanel invented sportswear, literally borrowing sporting clothes from her boyfriends, like sailor shirts, trousers and tweed jackets. She fashioned women's clothes out of wool jersey, which had previously been used for men's underwear. On to it she piled fake jewelry, faux pearls, which had been unheard of. It was called "poor chic".
Chanel in the twenties
Besides the clothes, she revolutionized the way women looked, popularizing the sun tan, bobbed hair, and red lipstick. Her perfume Chanel No. 5, sold in a glass cube that still looks modern today, is the number one selling fragrance in the world.
She was a genius, a fashion designer who expressed the modern age in her work, just as Picasso, Diaghilev, Stravinsky and Hemingway, who were her friends, did in their respective arts. Her clothes were natural and easy, and followed the line of the body. I want to say, athletic. What she created was timeless. When you see photographs of Chanel, the clothes could practically be worn today. She is often pictured in a crewneck sweater, with pearls and cuffs piled on: she is a working woman in a sweater. Coco Chanel was living proof of her motto, "Fashion passes but style remains."
This link offers a tour of Chanel's amazing apartment and a film with the beautiful Keira Knightley; that girl really knows how to wear a cut-on-the bias gown.