Scent Noir

No.5 Coco Chanel is the controversial figure of Fashion.  It’s part of the label’s allure!

Students working on cosmetic floors of department stores all want to be selling the fascinating brand yet the genius behind it is a calculating, nonchalant, femme fatale!

In Thursday night’s feature  on BBC 4  a story, I thought was just a re-telling of a rumour, proves to be about her actual devious plotting and career building subterfuge!

Coco Chanel’s revolutionary perfume concept was as audacious as her outlandish designer clothing. At its launch, in 1921, it was an instant hit but in the 1920s and 1940s the Number 5 brand was at the centre of a war between the celebrated designer and her entrepreneurial business partners, the Wertheimer brothers.

In the thrilling and dark development of the world’s most famous perfume friends and colleagues become enemies and adversaries!

During WWII, with the help of her high-ranking Nazi lover, Coco Chanel attempted to oust her Jewish partners – who had fled German-occupied France and were operating the business from New Jersey – to take control of the highly lucrative business.

On Thursday these shocking revelations were confirmed, with archive footage of Gabrielle herself and her secret staircase at the Ritz.  Directed by Stephane Benhamou, the Wertheimer brothers Paul and Pierre did not make personal archive appearances but were represented by animated cut outs!

“The No. 5 War,” documentary  premiered at the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival in January 2017. Here director Stephane Benhamou told audiences that his long days burrowing in French archives, not only let him tell the story of one of the most popular fragrances in the world, but proved beyond doubt that Chanel was ready to exploit the Nazi race laws to increase her wealth and power.

Isn’t it Romantic? A Valentine’s day muse.

‘Isn’t it Romantic?’ is the tune David Larabee, (William Holden) had playing as attractive party guests were often seduced by him, in their tennis pavilion, in the Paramount movie ‘Sabrina’.

Sabrina Fairchild (Audrey Hepburn) fell for his tactics, even knowing it was his practice and not really a special thing for her, alone.

audreytennis

For me romance is always Chanel!

Never was her mythology so plundered for the sake of fairy tale than in the Audrey Tatou/Orient Express short. Every camera angle, every lighting effect, each costume, every look, shrieked of passion. It was an extravagant vehicle to sell No.5.

One of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s small masterpieces, it’s story, about danger, longing and delayed love at first sight, is the most potent Valentine’s day two minutes we could watch.

But there is something enchanting about this time of year. The birds are singing, the light is longer, and we can lightly let our thoughts turn to thoughts of holiday train travel.Jean-PierreJeunet

The little singing milliner’s latest looks!

SOMETIMES a look is so subtly suggestive of a label’s legend that it’s difficult to spot the brand at first. Not this time, however! Even dressing transparently leaves no room for doubt.  This can’t be anything but Chanel!

chanel-spring-summer-2018-ready-to-wear-show-pearl-glass

From the label’s 2018 Spring collection, the hat reflects designs based on simple styles and shapes from housekeepers, nannies and nurses uniforms of the times. Gabrielle Chanel saw the looks as more chic and flattering than the fussy overdecorated chapeaux worn by 1920s middle class conventional women.

Chanel experimented with textiles. Using transparent plastics and acrylics echoes the founder’s practice. Tweedy texture of the jacket continues a tradition based on Coco’s connections to English and Scottish aristocrats.

I love the way Lagerfeld and his team enchant us with new ways of seeing Fashion without losing sight of their original inspirations.

 

 

Still lives and long lost footage

The shoestring straps on the miniscule black dress and the high-heeled above-the-ankles boots in ‘Vanity Fair’s’ current Chanel ad make think of Deauville, ‘Boy’ Capel, Audrey Tatou, Ballet Russes and Stravinsky. How do they do it?

What would Roland Barthes say?

So vulnerable - so not Chanel. So vulnerable – so not Chanel.

In Woody Allen’s ‘Stardust Memories’ there’s a scene with a besotted fan saying, to a successful movie director, that his after-shave gives her a Proustian-rush.  When she asks what it’s called he replies, Proustian Rush!

Maybe you had to be there, but it makes the point that a perfume has the power to stir significant memories and evoke emotions.

Once a scent is established and carries a label’s essence it’s important that the associations from the Fashion house are continued in promoting its myths and legends. The Wertheimers who still run the House of Chanel are usually brilliant at this*

However Coco Chanel’s life and works left a legacy, which continues as the most successful Fashion label in the world. Images from her original inspirations are traced in every new collection by Karl Lagerfeld and his super talented team.

Marilyn Monroe’s short…

View original post 74 more words

Shopping and partly shopping!

Petite Robe Noire Guerlain Party in Paris
Petite Robe Noire Guerlain Party in Paris

‘Cuddle Up’

I’m just about in control!  But last week the urge to own sensational things overwhelmed me.  Not because my senses or my emotions were running away, but because successful creative people were selling me dreams. I always review Burberry. Christopher Bailey is a friend of our university and a truly caring, creative designer.  His use of music is sensitive,  of the moment;  making Burberry Prorsum the most ‘must-hear!’

So I want to know what everyone else is saying about him. Reading Cathy Horyn’s review of the Burberry S/S 2014 show in the New York Times – ‘separates, the new super-soft double-faced cashmere coats in pastels and neutrals, the cardigans and the proposal of a semi-transparent lace skirt’ nyti.ms/15y4AJU

Then I found myself being irresistibly directed to ‘Upon Reflection, Anne Fontaine’s Feminine Touch’ nyti.ms/15uJY54 

As the director of ‘Coco Avant Chanel’ her work is essential viewing for me.  There she is in the New York Times demonstrating how she would not be without her mirrored compact lipstick in ‘Grenade’ by Guerlain!  It’s key to her success, she seems to be saying!

It was meant to be an interview about her latest movie ‘Adore!’  I had to have the lipstick!   pinterest.com/pin/4130652155  How many other ‘Coco Avant Chanel’ fans rushed out or to Paypal to join the party?

Through Fashion, perfume and jewels, rather than anything more practical,  we believe we can lead lives of love, romance and glamour.  And of course, we can!?

Every time I open up the intriguing little compact and apply the enchantingly scented stick to my lips I’m transported to the idyllic worlds of blue trains, Shalimar, Paris and the chicest little black dress on the catwalk.

Love on the Orient Express

Behind Coco Chanel’s gift for elegant, timeless, design was a personal life of abandonment and insecurity. Her mythology is plundered, for promotional purposes, keeping ‘Chanel’ in the forefront of international Fashion marketing.  Her origins are shrouded in mystery. She hid her history. She was an orphan who decided to live in a castle, becoming an archetype of her own creation.

House of  Chanel is owned by Gerard and Alain Wertheimer, grandsons of Pierre Wertheimer, who founded the company, with Chanel, in 1924, two years after he, and his brother Paul, had helped bring Chanel No.5 to the marketplace.

The English millionaire Edward ‘Boy’ Capel gave Chanel the money to start her own millinery business in Paris in 1910.  He died in a road accident in 1919. Chanel did not marry but founded the world’s most successful Fashion house and the Chanel connection goes beyond No.5. When the fragrance ad aired, Anne Fontaine’s Coco avant Chanel movie, starring Tautou as the young Coco, appeared in French cinemas, in 2010.

Opening with a dark-eyed girl on a cart, covered in a thick, bronze, tweedy blanket with a hand-knitted doll, we see the landscape from her point of view and the fabric textures in close-up. It was going to be about needlework?  Mais, non.  Distinguished, on the DVD cover, as a story of a woman whose love affairs defied convention, it really is rather more about sewing. It has all the hallmarks of French cinema and not just because of the subtitles. Sweeping views of the expansive, so Impressionist, countryside; clever, adventurous camera angles, drawing us in, to feel how the young Chanel is both exploited and exploiting.

Audrey Tatou’s deft involvement with the process of making clothes and observing humanity is at the heart of the film’s alchemy. It mixes class drama with professional aspiration to create a modern day transformation. Cinderella invents her own ballgowns and buys the Fashion house where they are made and shown.

It convinced me that Fashion designers put their souls into their output. It condensed the Fashion system into 106 minutes of doubly moving image text.  In spectacular form it sets the scene for an integrated cross-marketing campaign, where the Ad sells the film and the film sells the product.

When we thrill to the Chanel No 5 current television commercial we relive Coco Chanel’s life as a young adventurer. As Audrey Tatou moves through the corridors of the Orient Express in lithe gold satin, hoping to find her lover’s arms, Coco’s doomed love affair with Boy Capel is re-evoked.  As the actress rushes towards the beach and views passengers on a luxury ocean-going liner, ‘la mer,’ and the French, and Coco’s, infatuation with the sea becomes part of Chanel’s signature themes, associated with the voyage and the clothes worn for the journey.

Of course Coco Avant Chanel is a woman’s film. Directed by Anne Fontaine, and costumed by Catherine Leterrier, it has links with the Feminist tract, ‘The Subversive Stitch.’ Yet it speaks of elegance, observation, fame, the significance of Fashion and the power of dress to alter the way we see ourselves and are seen by others.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykBjfHOC-m8