Running Time: 106'
Main Cast :
Marie-France Pisier - Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel
Timothy Dalton - Boy Capel
Rutger Hauer - Etienne de Balsan
Karen Black - Emilienne D'Alençon
Brigitte Fossey - Adrienne
Leila Frechet - Coco as a child
Julian More from the book by Claude Delay
In the year 1895, little Gabrielle Chanel was 10 years old. Abandoned by her father in an orphanage, Gabrielle grew into an intelligent adolescent filled with curiosity about life. Although she rebelled against the strict rules of the orphanage, she was destined to stay there until she was 18 years of age. Then, at long last, she goes to live with her young aunt Adrienne. The girls become close friends but, before long, Gabrielle begins to resent the burgeois and stifling provincial life. Persuading Adrienne to free herself from family ties, the girls gain their independence by starting work for a tailor in the town. Before long they meet two handsome gentlemen - Etienne de Balsan and Robert de Nexon. Etienne becomes the first man in Gabrielle's life. Gentleman farmer and horse breeder, he instals Gabrielle in his chateau at Royallieu, near Compiegne. One day, Etienne introduces Gabrielle to one of his best friends, millionaire Boy Capel. It is love at first sight. Boy is captivated by the charm and personality of this young woman - fascinated by her face - her huge dark eyes. At first amused by her ambitions he, nevertheless, makes it possible for Gabrielle to establish a small business in Paris and to make her first real home there. An idyllic and passionate love affair develops with Boy. Having made his fortune as the owner of coal mines in England, Boy now cultivates his friendship with George Clemenceau - a famous French statesman - to advance his own political ambitions.
1914 - the War. Gabrielle moves her business to Deauville and by war's end, her enormous success and reputation as “Coco” Chanel is such that she is able to open her first “salon” at 21 rue Cambon, in Paris. Then, one day, Boy tells Gabrielle that he is to marry an English woman whose social status and family connections will make it possible for him to realize his political ambitions - a marriage of convenience. Gabrielle is heartbroken. All her energies are now concentrated on her work - her genius as a designer and business woman. She meets Misia Sert, the wife of the famous painter and is introduced to the decadent life of some of the rich and famous in Paris between the wars.
1923 - the year of her first big fashion show - a show which was to revolutionize women's clothes and make the name Chanel a world fashion leader for generations to come. Boy Capel returns to Paris. He has never stopped loving Gabrielle - he cannot live without her. He is to divorce his wife so as to be free to marry Gabrielle, despite his knowledge about Coco's bisexual tastes.
“Coco” Chanel, uncrowned queen, is in heaven - her name on everyone's lips - her lover returned to her. Then tragedy strikes. Driving to the South of France, Boy is killed in a car crash. Coco becomes a recluse but the world of fashion and her genius prove too strong. She goes on to build her empire on the tragic foundations of her life.
Born illegitimately into poverty, Coco Chanel was raised in an orphanage. A shrewd fighter, she first hoped for fame and fortune as a provincial nightclub singer but ended up as a backstreet milliner. From those humble beginnings, she eventually became the head of the greatest empire ever built by a woman. As the mistress of British millionaire Arthur Capel, she learned and then exploited the extravagance of the idle rich.
Chanel revolutionized the way women looked. Her triumphs though were shattered, along with her love for men when Capel was killed enroute to their wedding.
The influential designer shortened women's skirts, cut short their hair and discarded their corsets. As Coco made the simple elegant, she also perfumed the world with Chanel No. 5.
At the height of her success she collaborated with Picasso and openly flaunted her affair with Britain's Duke of Westminster. Chanel, with friends and lovers in high places, even helped plot Winston Churchill's peace-making moves with Germany towards the end of the Second World War.
She died in 1971 and left a legacy that today is an inspiration to independent women and high fashion that has never been equalled.
Coco (Gabrielle) Chanel (1885-1971)
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