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Coco Before Chanel, Milliner Before Diva

September 3, 2010

I watched the movie Coco Before Chanel with Audrey Tautou this week.  

Coco's early career as a milliner

Coco's early career as a milliner as portrayed in the movie Coco Before Chanel


Aside from the fact that I love history, Chanel’s designs, and France, I was terribly interested to learn more about her early career in millinery.  I’ve had several people remind me that “You know, Chanel started out in millinery…” and then hint strongly that my millinery career could be just the beginning of a larger fashion career.  While I appreciate the confidence these people have in my design and sewing skills, I currently have no desire to become a garment designer.  I love making hats and, for now at least, that suits me (har har) just fine.  I also don’t have the patience to create entire garments – that’s actually what led me to start sewing hats!  While hats can take hours to create depending on the complexity of design and the techniques involved, creating a hat can often be completed in roughly half a day.  Unless you’re a Project Runway wunderkind, good luck completing an entire outfit from start to finish in half a day! 

Unfortunately for me, the movie didn’t focus on her millinery.  Not that I really expected it to, but a girl can dream, right?  It did show some of her finished hats (gorgeous, of course) and certainly made it clear that she had begun her fashion career with millinery, but I was left wanting more.  (The movie on its own is pretty good, btw.  I like Ms. Tautou and the entire cast was pretty good but I was so focused on the historical aspect of things that I can’t offer a very good movie critique without seeing it again.  Sorry.)  The movie never explained how she learned millinery (she was a seamstress early on, but millinery is a very specific set of techniques – perhaps all seamstresses learned millinery back then?)  It did explain why/how she conceived of her revolutionary designs (ah, necessity is the mother of invention yet again).  But did she ever really find satisfaction in creating hats or was it just a jumping-off point for her other ideas?  Did she have a philosophy attached to her millinery like she did with her clothing (simplicity, modernity, comfort, and elegance) 

I guess if I want to learn more on this topic, I’ll have to sit and actually read (gasp!) the book that I’ve owned for a few months about Coco’s legacy.  Hmm.  Maybe once I finish the Sookie Stackhouse books I borrowed from a friend (the books on which True Blood is based) I’ll follow up about Coco’s hats…. 

As always, please feel free to comment on this post below.  If you like what you see here, subscribe to this blog for more great millinery stuff!

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 3, 2010 11:23 am

    I can’t wait to see this movie! Thanks for the review.

    I don’t have the patience for couture either. Hats FTW!

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