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La Chanelphile

October 27, 2010

“Chanel Culture” Exhibit at Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art

The Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art is hosting Chanel Culture, “an exhibition charting the iconic fashion house’s literary and artistic inspirations.”  (WWD, 10.26.10)  Running from January 15, 2011 – March 14, 2011, the exhibit will showcase over 400 items “including clothing, artworks, manuscripts and films.”  The collection will be curated by Jean-Louis Froment, a French art director and critic and will be done with the consent and support of Chanel.  The exhibit will cover Gabrielle Chanel’s life and her relationships with avant garde artists of her time including Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso and Igor Stravinsky through the Karl Lagerfeld tenure.

No word on whether this exhibition will travel but I really hope it will.  As a history buff and Chanelphile, this exhibition is right up my alley!

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September 23, 2010

Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes at the V&A Museum

In 1924 Sergei Diaghilev, founder of the Ballets Russes, produced Le Train Bleu, “a ballet combining acrobatics, satire of the period, and pantomime.”  (Chanel and Her World, Edmounde Charles -Roux, p. 206)  His ballets were avant-garde and he imbued his productions with the works of other avant-garde artists of the time including Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Léon Bakst, Giorgio de’ Chirico, Jean Cocteau, Joan Miró, and Coco Chanel. (Diaghilev and the lasting style of the Ballets Russes, Kate Salter, Telegraph)

Coco Chanel created the costumes for Le Train Bleu, a ballet that brought together tennis players, golf champions and sun bathers searching for adventure.  Diaghilev’s direction for the costumes, as given by Cocteau stated:  “Instead of trying to remain this side of the ridiculous in life, to com to terms with it, I would push beyond.  What am I looking for? To be truer than true.”  (Chanel and Her World, Edmounde Charles -Roux, p. 215) Chanel in fact had made a name for herself for shunning the traditional dress of the early twentieth century, which she felt was too costumey.  Rather than designing costumes for Le Train Bleu, Chanel dressed the dancers in actual sports clothes from her collection.  She didn’t attempt to veil reality, but instead, brought it to life.

Chanel’s creationst for the Ballets Russes’ Le Train Bleu can be viewed now at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London in Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes, an exhibit featuring the costumes of the Ballet.  I wish I could see this collection for myself.  The costumes show wear and tear from repeated used in performances and don’t have much life in them.  (Diaghilev and the lasting style of the Ballets Russes, Kate Salter, Telegraph)  If you are, or will be, in London, this is a definite must see!

All Images: Chanel and Her World, Edmounde Charles -Roux

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July 1, 2010

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky Film Review

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky
Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky

Above: Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring): Part I (The Adoration of the Earth)by Igor Stravinsky

There’s a moment in Director Jan Lounen’s film Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, after a passionate sex scene (one of many), where the Russian composer tells Chanel, played by Anna Mouglalis, that she is not an artist. She could have had any man she wanted but she could not deny that which inspired her, even if he was married.

This moment ends an intense yet short affair between the innovative designer and the Russian composer but not before the two reached amazing high points in their respective careers.

After dedicating herself to her work, Chanel slowly began to evolve into a piece of art herself. This is something Lounen’s translates beautifully through the visuals in his film. Most of the film takes place in Coco’s garden villa, where she invited the exiled Stravinsky (Mads Mikkelsen) and his family to stay while he worked. The decor of the villa is lavish and speaks to the indulgence of the intense affair. The whimsical garden, large enough for a horse ride and a swing between the trees, speaks to the romantic tones of the film down to the moans coming from the secret love shack in the woods.

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky
Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky

In another scene, while in her room and after parting with Stravinsky, Chanel catches a glimpse of herself working in the mirror and pulls the drape to cover it. As unapologetic and not guilty as Coco felt about her affair with a married man, we see that it really is lonely at the top. She’s surrounded by extravagance and elegance but her loneliness is almost painful for her to witness. Her strict and detailed ways allowed her reach a level of success that is unmatched by any other fashion designer. Stravinsky’s revolutionary use of dissonance propelled him into music history books. After Boy Capel’s death, all the grief-stricken Coco wanted was to be fascinated and intrigued by a man again. She was a woman who yearned, lusted and loved.

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky
Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky
Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky

The film paints Coco as a woman of high standards, admired by other woman for her confidence but plagued by others thinking that her gambling with love meant she did not take it seriously.

Chanel was first captivated by Igor’s intensity and his brilliant mind during the legendary premiere of “The Rites of Spring” on May 29th, 1913.

While the French audience, used to ballets like Swan Lake, was outraged over the pairing of Stravinsky’s adventurous composition and Vaslav Nijinsky‘s almost savage choreography, Chanel was excited and drawn to the radical departure. This all makes for one of the most heart-pounding moments in a non-action film I’ve ever experienced. (See a Cannes Excerpt from Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky on Youtube)

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky
Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky
Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky

From the beginning, the film is whimsical and romantic and at times makes you feel like you’re in a surreal world of savage love and emotions. The intense story follows both Chanel and Stravinsky’s greatest achievements (Ballet Russes, Chanel No. 5) but also captures the pain and “decay” of Catherine Stravinsky—played by a striking Yelena Morozova—as she if forced to watch it all unfold before her and her children’s eyes.

The stunning costumes and score are enough to realize that this isn’t just another Chanel film. Uncle Karl even designed a gown for the film but every gown and outfit in this feature is just as stunning as the next. From Chanel to the male actors fitted in the most appropriate suits, expect to find your mouth slightly opened in awe of the sex, fashion and music Coco & Igor provides.

Review by Lexx Valdez

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January 4, 2010

“Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky” Movie Trailer

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky Official Movie Poster

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky Official Movie Poster

I’ve been hearing about this film for some time – Coco Chanel seems to be a very popular movie subject these days. Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky explores the relationship between the iconic designer and the avant-garde composer. Stravinsky was a married Russian ex-patriot living in Paris when he met Coco Chanel and they were rumored to have an affair.

One of the criticisms that people often bring up about Chanel is her affairs with men – how could a woman so independent and strong have affairs with married men? I can’t speak for her, nor do I condone what she did, but it was a different time then and I think she was a lonely woman looking for love in all of the wrong places. Either way, I know that I will definitely watch this film. View the trailer below – it’s in French – but you get the idea – the English trailer probably won’t be out for another few months…

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Filed under: Chanel Culture — Tags: , , , — La Chanelphile @ 4:32 am

June 13, 2009

At the Ballet…

Ballet Costumes Designed by Coco Chanel for "Le Train Bleu" 1924 (Chanel & Her World, Edmonde Charles-Roux, p.214)

Ballet Costumes Designed by Coco Chanel for "Le Train Bleu" 1924 (Chanel & Her World, Edmonde Charles-Roux, p.214)

In the 1920s, Coco Chanel was a rising star in the cultural scene and her social circle included people like Pablo Picasso (cubist painter), Sergei Diaghilev (founder of the Ballet Russes), Jean Cocteau (writer/playwright) and Igor Stravinsky.  Her social relationships transformed into working projects, and because of her illustrious friends, Chanel designed costumes for several ballets.

Now, Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld designed an exclusive costume for Senior Principal Dancer Elena Glurdjidze of the English National Ballet.  The costume is for “The Dying Swan” and took 3 women over 100 hours to make.  The tutu is made of a variety of feathers and is truly a work of art in and of itself.  The costume will make its stage debut on June 16th in London before making its way to Barcelona.  Watch the video below of Elena Glurdjidze gliding down the stairs and performing at the the Chanel Haute Couture Salon…

"The Dying Swan" Ballet Costume Designed by Karl Lagerfeld (Chanel) for the English National Ballet

"The Dying Swan" Ballet Costume Designed by Karl Lagerfeld (Chanel) for the English National Ballet

"The Dying Swan" Ballet Costume Designed by Karl Lagerfeld (Chanel) for the English National Ballet

"The Dying Swan" Ballet Costume Designed by Karl Lagerfeld (Chanel) for the English National Ballet

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March 3, 2009

More Chanel Films! “Chanel and Stravinsky: The Secret Story” Set for Release in 2009

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Image of Chanel and Stravinsky, among others, from Chanel and Her World by Edmonde Charles-Roux

If this is not Chanel-mania, I don’t know what is!  Last year we saw the Lifetime made-for-tv movie depicting the life of Coco Chanel.  In a few months the premier of Coco Avant Chanel will hit theaters.  What’s next?  Another Chanel film of course!  The third in this string of Chanel films depicts the love affair between Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky.  Directed by Jan Kounen with Mads Mikkelsen starring as Stravinsky and Anna Mouglalis as Chanel.  The duo met in Paris and even worked together on Georges Balanchine’s “Apollon Musagete” – Igor Stravinsky wrote the music and Mlle. Chanel designed the costumes.  Chanel and Stravinsky: The Secret Story (working title) releases later this year – stay tuned for updates!

Read below for a synopsis on the backdrop of the film:

Paris 1913, Coco Chanel is devoted to her work and madly in love with the handsome and very wealthy Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel.

At the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Igor Stravinsky premieres his “Rite of Spring”. Coco attends the premiere and is mesmerised. But the revolutionary work is too modern, too radical: the enraged audience boos and jeers. A near-riot ensues. Stravinsky is inconsolable.

Seven years later. Now rich, respected and successful, Coco is devastated by Boy Capel’s death. She meets Stravinsky again – a penniless refugee living in exile in Paris after the Russian Revolution. The attraction between them is immediate and electric.

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Read the full story to see more stills from the film.

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Filed under: Chanel,Chanel Culture,Chanel Media,Coco Chanel — Tags: , , — La Chanelphile @ 8:48 pm