Coco Chanel- Movies and Interiors


This past week, Lifetime Television for Women aired their latest primetime movie, Coco Chanel starring Shirley MacLaine, Malcolm McDowell and Barbara Bobulova. This movie kicks off what seems to be a resurging interest in the life of Coco Chanel and a need for viewers to re-familiarize themselves with this great icon. Audrey Tautou (of Amelie fame and one of my favorite actresses) will portray Mademoiselle Chanel in the film Coco Avant Chanel which will be released in 2009. I, naturally, am very excited for this film, so I was looking forward to watching the Lifetime version to tide me over until then.

Unfortunately the Lifetime film was melodramatic and inconsistent. Shirley MacLaine plays Chanel in her later years and the film sees her mostly setting up flashbacks where Barbara Bobulova takes over as the young Gabrielle Chanel. Bobulova does a pretty good job in the role- although lacking gumption, she is charming, nice to look at and has a lovely French accent. For some reason, MacLaine made the choice as the older Chanel to not keep said French accent and instead would speak blatantly in her own (very strong) American accent! Bizarre, non? Being a daily connoisseur, these small things get to me…

Accents, aside, the film did a pretty good job of entertaining- there’s just something about watching a made for TV movie on a quiet and overcast Sunday afternoon- but it left a lot to be desired. I still await (what will surely be) the resoundingly better Coco Avant Chanel with Audrey Tautou…

What the Lifetime film did remind me of, however, is Coco Chanel’s amazing apartment on 31 Rue Cambon in Paris, with her mirrored staircase and Art Deco sensibilities. When researching my blog entitled Coco Mademoiselle, I came across the website for this perfume, www.coco-mademoiselle.com . On this site, one can navigate through Mademoiselle Chanel’s decadent apartment. It is a real treasure: crystal spheres, a sumptuous sofa, and oriental shades. For me, it is Art Deco heaven!

I paid special attention to the lighting in Coco Chanel’s apartment, as my husband and I are having recessed lights installed in our home this week. The past few days have seen crews of workers diligently cutting holes in our ceiling and wiring accordingly. The job is still not finished but it has me excited about lighting- which is pivotal to good design. Coco’s apartment was lit with gorgeous lamps and sconces, which appear to have tobacco colored shades that give the room that dusky, mysterious hue. We will try to create a similar effect by putting our overhead lights on dimmer switches so when night falls, our rooms will have that certain glow…

I can’t help but wonder what Coco Chanel would be like if she were around today. If nothing else, I’m sure she would be flattered that thirty-seven years after her death, she is still inspiring us through fashion, movies and interior design.

Virtual tour of Coco Chanel's apartment: www.coco-mademoiselle.com

Image of Coco Chanel courtesy of: www.theswellelife.com

Image of Audrey Tautou courtesy of: www.gracemagazine.com