September 13, 2009 01:00 PM


Anna Pocaro/London Ent/Splash News Online

You’d think it would be quite a challenge to fill Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s shoes (and what magnifique shoes they were!). But for Audrey Tautou, who portrays the fashion icon in the new film, Coco Before Chanel, slipping into character was as easy as slipping into a signature ballet flat.  During the film’s premiere at L.A.’s Pacific Design Center this week, the petite actress, striking in an architecturally cut black Lanvin dress, confided that the designer had “…a unique temper, so that it is great to play such a brilliant and rebellious woman.” French director Anne Fontaine said that she couldn’t think of anyone better suited for the part than Tautou.  “For me, it was incredible to have in front of me the similarity between Gabrielle Chanel and Audrey… when you see the ways of the eyes,  the intensity. the French elegance and also the strong personality.  I don’t think I could have dreamed a better actress.” At the after-party, held at Chanel’s trendy new Robertson Boulevard boutique, Audrey appeared on the trademark Chanel white carpet in a slinky silver and purple dress, gold belt and heels, all from the atelier’s collection. It was clear that her enthusiasm for the film is genuine, not mere Coco puffery.  The role, she said, was “complex and enriching…It is very powerful to play a rebel, to play an adventuress, an audacious and clever woman.” And an insider tip to the film — all of the designs in the movie’s final scene are originals from Coco’s own conservatory, which allowed the director and Karl Lagerfeld to make the scene a seamless collaboration. The film opens in N.Y.C and Los Angeles on September 25.–Julie Neigher

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