How Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel Influenced Early Cinema

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Bringing French fashion into film

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel is the timeless fashion icon behind the French fashion house Chanel but not too many people know her for her work influencing fashion in cinema. Chanel was also responsible for bringing French fashion influence to the rest of the world including early films.

Around the time Gabrielle was born, cinema came into existence and revolutionized movement in an image, just like Gabrielle revolutionized the female allure. Gabrielle worked as a stylist and costume designer for films including Jean Renoir’s “The Rules of the Game.” Gabrielle also suggested a sleek raincoat and beret for the character of Michelle Moore in “Port of Shadows.”

Gabrielle later worked for American film titan MGM Samuel Goldwyn to give their contracted stars a more sophisticated look influenced by French fashion including Greta Garbo, Marlena Dietrich, and Gloria Swanson. Though she was welcomed with a red carpet, Gabrielle didn’t want to be consumed by Hollywood glamour and decided to leave.

Coco continued her work into her 70s as an idol for French singers fascinated by her enduring modernity. Jean Mauro wore Chanel dresses in Roger Vadim’s film “Dangerous Liaisons.” Delphine Seyrig also wore a majority of Chanel for her role in the film “Stolen Kisses” and worked alongside fur master Marienbad Byron for “Last Year In Marienbad.”

These films made Chanel’s black chiffon dresses legendary and she continued her work through mentorships, linking other artists together. Gabrielle introduced Visconti to Renoir and Zeffirelli to Fatima, she also connected with famous actresses to be her brand ambassadors including Elizabeth Taylor and Jane Fonda.

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