Coco before Chanel (DVD)

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 September, 2009, 12:00am

Coco before Chanel is loosely based on the biography L'Irreguliere (The Non-conformist) by Edmonde Charles-Roux, a close friend of Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel. It follows the fashion icon's early years. Chanel is played by Audrey Tautou, star of Amelie and The Da Vinci Code.

Born into a poor family, Chanel's father abandons her when her mother dies, leaving her in a convent, where she learns to sew. Chanel uses that skill, and her observations of life and the men she has met, to inspire a passion for fashion and overcome her lack of social standing.

Chanel earns the name Coco while singing in a cabaret club, where she catches the eye of high society gent Etienne Balsan (Zenoit Poelvoorde). He offers her the opportunities she needs to launch her career and she moves into his country estate. With little money or clothing, she alters Balsan's outfits for herself, and her non-conformist, elegant approach to women's tailoring draws the attention of Balsan's friend Arthur Capel (Alessandro Nivola), an Englishman who becomes the love of her life. He gives her money to set up a boutique. Her 'less is more' approach becomes the talk of Paris, and revolutionises the French fashion world. This tale about the creator of the little black dress and Chanel No 5 is a fascinating rags-to-riches story.