Coco Chanel was the costume designer for Jean Renoir’s brilliant 1939 comedy of manners, La règle du jeu . She had also designed the costumes for La bête humaine (1938). At its release, the film was denigrated by the public, dismissed by the critics, re-cut by the producers and finally banned by the French government as demoralising and unpatriotic. On the surface, a series of interlinked romantic intrigues taking place in a country chateau during a weekend shooting party compose the basic plot. It’s in fact “a war film, and yet there is no reference to the war”, as its director says in his book, My Life and My Films. The satire is a sharp depiction of human nature and a study of the corruption and decay within the French society on the eve of the outbreak of the second world war.
This look, from a publicity shot (many times outfits show much better in publicity shots), is the one that stroke me the most as classic Chanel. Primarily comfortable. It could easily be made modern today. I remember this photograph of Coco Chanel in the company of Winston Churchill and his son at a Duke of Westminster’s hunting party in 1928 and the designer was dressed in a very similar outfit to this one: skirt with pockets, hunting jacket, scarf tucked into the jacket collar, leather gloves, long leather boots and hat. She always saw the real woman who would be wearing the clothes, embracing comfort and freedom in silhouettes.
Many of Coco Chanel’s designs had the origins in British country menswear. Boy Capel, from whom she borrowed blazers and jodhpurs when riding, had freed Chanel’s creativity, and during her involvement with the Duke of Westminster, from 1926 to 1931, Coco took up the quintessentially English country style and started to use the Duke’s own style as inspiration for her collections. That is also where her ideas for blazers, tweeds and soft belted coats originate. The style she imposed prevails to this day.
photo: publicity still | Nouvelles Éditions de Films
Men and women alike in black suits, white shirts and elegant watches on. And when Ewan McGregor, Christoph Waltz, Cate Blanchett and Emily Blunt are the actors in the story film-photographed in black and white by Peter Lindbergh in bella Italia, in Portofino, the outcome can be nothing less than classy, timeless and casually sexy. The beautiful campaign is for the IWC Schaffhausen watches company, for their Portofino Midsize Collection. Watch the video (directed by Peter Lindbergh and Stephen Kidd) at the end of the blog post to really feel the story.
This one above was shot during a break between shots.
photos: Peter Lindbergh for IWC Portofino Midsize Collection, shot in Portofino, Italy | featuring Cate Blanchett, Emily Blunt, Zhou Xun, Ewan McGregor and Christoph Waltz
An Oscar de la Renta ball gown and an image that so well evoke the beauty and fantasy the designer’s creations often inspired.
“I’ve lived every day to the fullest, and I’ve had a marvelous time. I’ve tried to be nice to the people I care about, and ignore the ones I don’t. I enjoy what I’ve done.”
“Elegance is a discipline of life”.
“Walk like you have three men walking behind you.”
“Being well dressed hasn’t much to do with having good clothes. It’s a question of good balance and good common sense.”
Oscar de la Renta (1932-2014)
photo: Mario Testino for Vogue US, November 2008 | Natalia Vodianova wearing an Oscar de la Renta dress in the editorial “Field of Dreams”
By Myself was the first version of Lauren Bacall’s autobiography, published in 1979, and By Myself and Then Some brought the story up to date in 2006. I’ll admit that I didn’t enjoy the “and then some” part that much, but that also has its highlights and does not take too much of the book. The autobiography is written with honesty, wit and a sense of humour – Lauren did write it herself and she did it well. You can not but admire Bacall’s openness about her insecurities that stayed with her all her life (who would have thought?), her determination and hard work to become an actress on her own forces and nobody else’s, despite constant setbacks, and then, after having her break with To Have and Have Not, her on-going struggle to find professional gratification, finally becoming a first-rate actress, with a brilliant career in theatre.
I especially liked the first half of the book (which I read as slowly as I could because I didn’t want it to end), where Lauren recounts her childhood and early life in modelling and theater in New York City, and then her way to stardom and her life with Bogie. Those were the times which mostly shaped her character, as she herself admits, with the likes of her mother first of all, whom she was so close to and who always supported and encouraged her in pursuing her dream, her uncles, and then Bogie to thank for that. She doesn’t only tell her story, she relives it. You really get a sense of those times, New York in the 30s, Hollywood during its Golden Age. The Hollywood glory days have a way of swaying my imagination, so you can figure how enwrapped I became in the story. She knew everyone in her day and she tells stories, including ones regarding the questionable Hollywood system, without ever seeming to drop names – that’s part of her class. She doesn’t veneer her famous friends either, but draws a line between their on screen image and their real selves, just as in her case, and puts a human face on them, and that’s where the beauty lies.
I usually wear heels on Mondays, as I want a clear shift from weekend to work-week wear. But more often than not, I like to step out of the routine and try a look stripped off formality. Flats, and better yet sneakers, paired with wide legged trousers have always been a go-to for me. I love the quiet elegance of grey year-round, and for the cold season a classic grey coat is a key piece that looks so fresh and lively when worn with red. This look is a winner from neck to toe.
photo: Paola Kudacki for Lucky Magazine, October 2014 | Karlie Kloss styled by Karen Kaiser | View the entire editorial on Visual Optimism
by guest writer
Lola (1961) was Jacques Demy’s debut film (his Bay of Angels remains one of my all time favourite movies). What stikes at first is the way he chooses to open his movie: Beethoven and Michel Legrand’s are the rhythms introducing a mysterious white American Cadillac, and by filming the waterfront and the highly photogenic balcony streets of Nantes, Demy gives his film an authentic and picturesque touch. I must mention the fact that Lola is a tribute to Max Ophüls and Raoul Coutard goes to the limits to get his shots and angles in a perfect composition. Lola (Anouk Aimée) is a cabaret dancer who raises her child on her own and doesn’t want to take a decision on choosing the proper man for her life even though there are a few admirers. About her character, Anouk Aimée said that she was “devoid of any sort of aggressiveness, or vulgarity, or exhibitionism” and that the poetry of the film made her act so freely. The movie realistically asserts the ephemeral nature of happiness and love with a subtle humanity which is not too often seen in cinema.
photo: movie still | Rome Paris Films