Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Coco and Igor (Rhoades)

“Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky” Make Music (and Perfume) Together
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

The old song may have been about Love Potion No. 9, but my mother always wore Chanel No. 5. It was a fashionable scent, a whiff of Paris for the everyday woman.

“Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky” is a film about the affair between the French fashionista who invented her namesake perfume in 1920 and the famed Russian pianist and composer. It’s currently playing at the Tropic Cinema.

Based on the fictional book by Chris Greenhalgh (who also wrote the screenplay), the film was shot in both French/Russian and English language versions by director Jan Kounen.

Surprisingly, the House of Chanel and its chief designer Karl Lagerfeld cooperated with the film’s production, granting access to Coco Chanel’s private papers and to her apartment at 31 rue Canbon in Paris. Maybe they liked this romanticized image of their founder over “Coco Avant Chanel,” a competing film starring Audrey Tautou.

The seeds of this liaison between the couturiere and the composer were planted in 1913 when Coco attended the premiere performance of Stravinsky’s “The Rites of Spring,” a dissonant composition that caused a riot among the audience. She was awed by the avant-garde music and its scandalous choreography.
Seven years later, her business a success but mourning the death of her lover, she invites Stravinsky along with his consumptive wife and four children to live in her villa after he flees the Russian Revolution. There Coco and Igor begin an affair, spurring both onward to greater success. His compositions develop a more liberated style and she invents her perfume.

But back at the villa, tension is reaching a breaking point.

French actress Anna Mouglalis (“Merci pour le chocolat”) shines as Coco. Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen (“Casino Royale”) is quite effective as Igor. And Russian actress Yelena Morozova (“Circumstances”) successfully fills the role of the wronged wife.

Gabriel Bonheur “Coco” Chanel was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Important People of the Century. And so was Igor Stravinsky. A pairing that paid dividends.

“Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky” was the closing film at last year’s Cannes Film Festival.

But the real winner is Anna Mouglalis. Back in 2002 she was chosen by Karl Lagerfeld to represent the House of Chanel. Still modeling for Chanel today, she’s about as close to Coco as you can come.
[from Solares Hill]

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