What is Coco before Chanel?
Before Gabriel Chanel became Coco Chanel, she had a grand lover called Boy Capel. Boy Capel is the real English gentleman that knew the ins and outs of aristocratic world of Chanel’s time. Different from the upper-class gentries, he is a hipster for that era. He was born to a rich family, played well the equestrian art, but he was not overly involved in the squandering habit of being a rich man. His culture and hobbies differentiated him. He enthralled Gabriel Chanel and elevated her to another platform. Music, horseback riding, the famous jersey tweet… it was the moment a soul met another soul. Taking his money, Chanel was able to open her first Chanel store at 21 Rue Cambon in Paris.
This is the brief history of a decade of love and mundane details reshuffled in the current of time. Countless articles, books, and movies were meticulously crafted to describe their relationship. Among these works, Coco Avant Chanel (Coco Before Chanel), the film that casted heavyweight actress Audrey Tautou as Chanel and Alessandro Nivola as Capel, captured combined details of history and contemporary imagination.
All the emotions are easily seen in the brown and stubborn eyes of Tautou, which are similar to the ones of Coco Chanel herself. A countryside girl abandoned by her father at young age, changed life trajectories multiple times, fiercely became a part-time singer, a mistress, the young lover of Capel, and finally the almighty Mademoiselle Coco Chanel. Throughout the show, that unbroken spirit was apparent in Tautou’s casting. Her clear jawline showed that irrepressive spirit of Chanel, which only succumbed to the softhess of falling in love.
When Capel and Chanel first met, their eyes were locked despite the mere seconds they were allowed to interact with each other. In the sun-drenched horse stable, she was the lover of his friend, and he was too perfect to be true. A few more interactions pulled them closer. The flame of love was not just chemistry, but beyond. When a boy met a girl, it was ice and fire burned with desire. But when a soul met the other soul, there were millions of stars in their eyes. As Boy Capel said in the movie, Coco Chanel did not belong to her master Etienne de Balsan. Capel and Chanel were lovers. They did nothing wrong staying in love.
There are many love stories in this world. However the grand love story became memorable only because sorrows have sharpened the knife and cut the sweetness suddenly.
Boy Capel died of car accidents. Chanel chose to continue living after a long period of moaning. Her later beaux in the rest of her 60 years included grand duke Dimitri of Russia and the duke of Westminster. However, that Boy Capel, there is only one in this world. He left, with the most innocent part of her 20s, in her early phase of life – not replaceable, only memorable.
“Proud people breed sorrows for themselves.” Boy Capel said. The story since became the legend.
We often say the word “unforgettable”. What is “unforgettable”? Can one experience be truly unforgettable? Many things, experiences, and people in this world are easily forgettable. Nevertheless, there are always precious a few rebellious and strong-willed that became the most exciting memories.
Upon finishing Coco Avant Chanel in the gloomy day of New York City, I also wrapped up L’Amant (Lover) by Maguerite Duras and an all time Chinese popular romantic comedy A Chinese Oddissey (Da Hua Xi You) famously directed by Stephen Chow.
In l’Amant, the young French girl met the Chinese man 10 years of her elder. The story began with his gaze at her at the bank of Mekong River. Story began with his crush on her. He walked up to her, hands shaken. He offered her a cigarette, which she took. She gradually comprehended his desire, and turned into flame slowly. One sentence that kept reiterating in the book is her observation on his fear and desire. Duras anchored, this is a man with fear, fear of many things. To combat this fear, he makes a lot of love. Love was the mixed feeling he used to deliver his desire and to avoid his fear: to lose his inherited wealth as his dad would want him to marry a traditional Chinese woman. The desire nourished the relationship, but the fear led the fruitless ending of the love.
However, stories can be summarised in sentences, emotions cannot. Duras used the most beautiful yet simple languages to describe the attractions. Ultimately, years of sexes and gazes turned into separation. When Duras departed by the cruise at the Mekong River, he came in his limousine as well. She stared at the currents that beat against her beloved land, she could not help but crying and thinking about him. He never left the limousine. He had feared that what would ultimately separate them was not just backgrounds, but the 10 year age difference. If backgrounds could be conquered through time, time wouldn’t.
Time, the miraculous delirium that also threaded the theme in the Chinese Odyssey. Differently, the major character used 500 years to understand what has he missed and what is he really pursuing. Trapped in 2 (or 3) sections of love, the major character, Money King, finally decided to give the girl he really really liked a kiss that she had wanted, at the final stage when he was meant to depart. Before he committed to his emotions, he had always thought he wanted someone else. The moment he understood, she perished.
To the love that has always existed before time and to the moment that is missed when we travel through time.