BECOMING ROMY: As part of its ongoing sponsorship of the Cinémathèque Française, Chanel is supporting an exhibition on actress Romy Schneider, who credited Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel for helping her to shed the starlet image she forged by playing Empress Elisabeth “Sissi” of Austria in a hugely popular trilogy of films in the 1950s.
Chanel met the Austrian-born actress through Italian director Luchino Visconti, who asked the designer to create the wardrobe for his segment of the comedy anthology movie “Boccaccio ’70,” released in 1962.
The exhibition in Paris includes a mottled tweed suit from the fall 1961 haute couture collection, similar to the one worn by Schneider in the film. Audiences were surprised to discover her as the embodiment of womanly mystique, in an apartment that bore similarities to the one that Chanel kept on Rue Cambon.
From then on, the house dressed her on- and off-screen, including in Alain Cavalier’s “Le combat dans l’ile” (“Fire and Ice.”)
“Chanel taught me everything without ever giving me advice. Chanel is not a designer like the others…because it’s a coherent, logical, ‘ordered’ whole: like the Doric order or the Corinthian order, there is a ‘Chanel order,’ with its reasons, its rules, its rigors. It is an elegance that satisfies the mind even more than the eyes,” Schneider once said.
The Cinémathèque exhibition, which runs until July 31, also includes five photographic prints taken between 1961 and 1965 by Shahrokh Hatami and George Michalke. It will run alongside screenings of Schneider’s most famous films, including “La piscine,” “Max et les ferrailleurs” and “César et Rosalie.”
Chanel has previously supported the Cinémathèque’s retrospectives on filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard and Alain Resnais, and financed the restoration of historic French films such as Jean Renoir’s “The Rules of the Game,” for which Gabrielle Chanel designed the costumes.
Chanel’s links with cinema date back to 1931, when movie mogul Sam Goldwyn invited the house’s founder to Hollywood. Her welcoming party at the Los Angeles train station included Greta Garbo, and Chanel would go on to design costumes for actresses such as Gloria Swanson.
The house has costumed actresses ranging from Jeanne Moreau in “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” to Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine.” It also has longstanding partnerships with film events such as the Deauville American Film Festival in France and the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
In addition to dressing celebrities such as Kristen Stewart, Keira Knightley, Penélope Cruz and Margot Robbie on the red carpet, the house has financially backed a number of films starring its house ambassadors, most recently Pablo Larraín’s “Spencer,” in which Stewart plays Princess Diana.