Fashionable movies / Sewing cardigans

Coco avant Chanel

Coco avant Chanel is a textbook example that a compelling story, the perfect actress and gorgeous visuals doesn’t necessary equates a fantastic movie. If I hadn’t been the consummate fashion geek that I am I would probably have been bored with this movie. Heck, even though I am a fashion fiend I found the movie slightly dull at times. Maybe my expectations was too high? Coco avant Chanel is not bad, but it’s mediocre.

As the title suggests it’s mostly about her life before she became a designer, but her clothes still runs like red thread throughout the movie. The movie makes a good case of Gabrielle Chanel being a pioneer and how the designs was closely linked to her views on women’s liberation.

Also for all you sewing geeks out there, there is plenty of sewing in this movie. And she does a couple of really cool refashion projects, like merging details from a men’s shirt with a dress and tweaking a riding outfit. The movie is also peppered with background stories about her style signatures, like the bow tie, the sailor tops and jersey cardigans.

My problem with Coco avant Chanel is that I find the movie disjointed. The shifts between the fashion, the sewing, her love life, and her life story in general aren’t exactly seamless so to speak. And it lacks a dramatic drive. But if you have any kind of interest in fashion history and/or Chanel I’m sure you will still find this movie a worthwhile watch.

Other fashion movies that I have reviewed:
Valentino – The Last Emperor
The September Issue
Giorgio Armani – A man for all seasons
Marc Jacobs/Louis Vuitton and Lagerfeld Confidential
Yves Saint Laurent and Signe Chanel


  • Antoinette
    September 24, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Thanks for the review. This movie is finally coming to us this weekend! I think I will see it in a theater, maybe in the next few weeks, because the Chanel jacket sew-along is happening now, but based on your review and others I've read, I would normally wait till it comes out on DVD. I love Audrey Tautou — it is too bad they weren't able to make more of this opportunity.

    Believe it or not, I think I might see Fame this weekend instead — which is a flash back to my youth that I'm OK revisiting. 🙂

  • Johanna
    September 24, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    >>Antoinette: I think you will find it worthwhile a trip to the cinema since there is so much sewing and fashion in the movie.

    And yay for Fame! I loved both the movie and the TV series, curious how that one have stood the test of time

  • Her name was Lola
    September 24, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    I'm disappointed to hear this! Though I still intend to see the film once it hits stateside {being the fashion junkie/Audrey Tatou-loving/film fanatic I am!} my interest has certainly been piqued by this review.


  • Johanna
    September 24, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    >>HNWL: The movie is not bad, it's just that it left me with a feeling that it could have been so much more. So yes I was disappointed, even though I was in some way prepared, since both the reviews and friend's reactions had been pretty lukewarm. But you will love both the fashion and Audrey, they are things that make this movie IMO!

  • gwensews
    September 25, 2009 at 12:10 am

    Thank you for the review.

  • Mary Nanna
    September 27, 2009 at 1:29 am

    I know what you mean – (BTW how is that I get to see movies months before you! I really thought NZ was the ends of the earth but apparently not!)

    It is quite slow, but I found it fascinating simply because it gave such a fascinating insight into what it was like to be born into poverty at that time and have no choice and very little opportunity to make it yourself.

    I came away hugely grateful for the choices I have in life and filled with admiration at Chanel for being such a determined person who took her opportunities.

    But yes, it is slow, for sure, and for me, not enough clothes!

  • Johanna
    September 27, 2009 at 7:24 am

    >>Mary Nanna: NZ sounds like a dream country for movie buffs! Sweden is also kinda at the end of the earth, but it's surprising that both you and I get to see movies even before they hit US cinemas, esp movies like The September issue who is a US film after all.

    Yes I too became really fascinated
    with Chanel's life story and how courages she was. It's thanks to people like her that we can enjoy the freedoms that we have now. And that is very good to be reminded of.

  • Johanna
    September 27, 2009 at 7:25 am

    >>Gwensews: You're welcome!


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