Monday, December 26, 2011

Fashion in Film: La Règle du Jeu

I am back!  This past month or so has been a crazy time for me between work and travel.  I think I have been on 8 planes, 2 trains, 2 buses, and countless numbers of cars in under 30 days.  But now that I have had a moment to breathe, I am happy to be back.  Expect a number of posts!

A friend of mine has an interesting blog where he talks about the intersection of music and film  (here! click!)  and that has inspired me to want to do more features here on the intersection of fashion and film.  My first piece was back in August where I talked about Isabel Marant's inpiration from the movie Shalako.  I grew up watching and adoring classic movies.  My favorite movie at the age of 4, according to my mom, was Brigadoon.  So, let's go back, way back, shall we?

How many people know that Coco Chanel designed clothes for the stage and film?  Almost 4 years after she introduced the black dress into society, she took on the task of designing costumes for her friend Jean Renoir's 1939 film "La règle du jeu".  How fitting that the woman who introduced the pant suit and more mannish styles at a time when women were vilified for not wearing corsets would design for such a controversial film.

Denigrated by the public, vilified by the critics, re-cut at the insistence of its producers, and finally banned by French government as demoralizing and unpatriotic,  "La règle du jeu"  was a commercial disaster at the time of its original release. On the surface, a series of interlinked romantic intrigues taking place at a weekend shooting party in a country chateau, the film is in fact a study of corruption and decay within French society on the eve of the outbreak of World War II.  Only made available again in its original form in 1956, it has become one of the most noted French films to date.  

Chanel's take on the look of Renoir's characters and the underlying commentary on French society is equally as telling as the undertone in the film.  For example, the chambermaid, Lisette, follows different 'rules' than the other characters and, against convention, is given some of the most extravagant costumes in the film, reversing the idea of what a 'maid' should look like.  Take a look at the stills below, the high neck bowed collars, especially, are distinctly Chanel.  Enjoy!

pics from IMDB

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