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Coco before Chanel

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22 April 2009

Coco before Chanel


In an orphanage, silently standing next to a perfectly made bed, is a frail and slender ten year old girl with thick black hair. What relation does she have to the young girl seen in a second-rate cabaret who neither sings nor dances particularly well, but with her sharp wit and charm, tiny little voice, and dark eyes walks out on stage  launching hoarsely into the song: “Who saw Coco in Trocadero?” while the ranting audience cheers and shouts for more?

Gabrielle Chanel, known as Coco, and her many lives.

She knows nothing of the fabulous destiny that lies before her, and if during the day she earns her keep as a dressmaker tailoring garments, Gabrielle hates being an apprentice and only lives for one thing: leaving the orphanage behind her and “making it” in high society.

Although Etienne Balsan, her lover and friend, an officer coming from polite society, will invite her to stay in his chateau and reluctantly help to begin her career, it is indeed Boy Capel the love of her life, who will see in this self-taught, crude talking and sharp tongued woman the fledging and glorious destiny that awaits her.


This film tells the story of the path taken by Coco from her obscure beginnings in an orphanage to the blinding lights of Paris and celebrity. A long refused destiny, which we will come to see, with the protagonist, as something that couldn’t happen any other way.

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Anne Fontaine and Camille Fontaine

with the collaboration of

Christopher Hampton,

Jacques Fieschi

A free adaptation from “L’Irrégulière” by Edmonde Charles-Roux

Published by Grasset & Fasquelle editions


Christophe Beaucarne AFC

Costume designer

Catherine Leterrier

production designer

Olivier Radot

Movie editor

Luc Barnier

original score

Alexandre Desplat

Sound engineers

Nicolas Cantin, Jean- Claude Laureux, Dominique Gaborieau

Assistant director

Joseph Rapp AFAR

Production manager

Frédéric Blum

Produced by

Caroline Benjo, Carole Scotta, Philippe Carcassonne, Simon Arnal


A coproduction

Haut et Court, Cine@, Warner Bros. Entertainment France,France 2 Cinéma

With the participation of

Canal+, Ciné Cinéma, France 2

In association with

Films Distribution, Cofinova 5, Banque Populaire Images 9 and Scope Pictures