Gautaman Bhaskaran
an indian journalist
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© Copyright 2004





In Fashion…Seductive style on the sand

Cannes is not just cinema. It is also fashion of the most gorgeous kind. And as one fashion critic said, style has been translated into substance there. I am not sure of that, but the Cannes Film Festival that takes places every May at the French Riviera – often called the playground of Europe for the rich and the famous – provides a great opportunity for people to transform themselves into attractive butterflies.

It does not, therefore, seem inappropriate that a new movie on Coco Chanel, the world’s best fashion diva, should be announced at Cannes. To be directed by Anne Fontaine and starring Audrey Tautou (remember her in “The Da Vinci Code” with Tom Hanks?), the yet to be titled film will be a biography of Coco’s early life.

Here is what Fontaine told the Press at Cannes: “When I started to imagine what a movie on Coco could be like, her formative years, what happened before Chanel herself comprehended her dazzling destiny, seemed to me the most fascinating aspect of her life. I wanted to try to follow, from the interior, the itinerary of this poor, young woman without an education, but gifted with an uncommon personality and destined to be ahead of her time. I wanted to study Coco’s society in which women were prisoners of alienating behaviour and clothes that were equally so.

“The film relates how a girl with an unusual physique for the time, without any support or means, becomes the uncompromising, free and ambitious individual who will invent modern woman after embodying her”, Fontaine said.

“Like the young Coco Chanel, Audrey Tautou has an inner strength housed in a frail body and that dark gaze that looks right through you… Their resemblance goes beyond physical appearance. Audrey has told me of her fascination for the character and of her premonition that she would one day ‘meet’ Coco. Today, I am very happy to be the privileged witness to that encounter“, Fontaine added.

Cannes love affair with style goes well past Fontaine’s yet to be made work. In 1951, Marlon Brando rode across the screen wearing a Tee-shirt in “A Streetcar Named Desire”, and the humble men’s garment, which was little more than a vest, become not just a symbol of style, but the very icon of manhood at Cannes and elsewhere.

Two stars were born that year. The Tee-Shirt and Brando, but the wispy vest has had a greater staying power. It has lived on and on and on.

This year at Cannes, a new documentary on the star, “Brando” is being screened, and I saw how the actor’s unique style not just revealed the muscle beneath the mettle, but also his raw interior in his films.

For Brando, the Tee was his “armour of resistance” that conveyed the social and political attitude of those times.

Like Brando, who showed of his biceps, the women at Cannes were not shy of showing their skin.

Brigitte Bardot, that sex kitten, knew how to shock when she showed off her knees, her thighs and even her panties in 1955. Four decades later, Sharon Stone caused a storm by sporting a skirt that got magically unbuttoned to reveal a sequined girdle underneath.

Today, women at Cannes are bolder. They wear nothing beneath. No bra, no panty, and better still they sunbathe on the beaches with not a care showing off their bodies, tantalisingly tanned. And when Sophia Loren, can still let men take a peek at her fantastic knees at 73, why would the rest shy away from such body shows.

And, mind you, the right amount of skin can attract the paparazzi or get one a free glass of wine and open club doors and even screening venues. Well, well, Cannes can be shockingly seductive in its style.

(Webposted May 22 2007)