Jeanne Moreau © Keystone France
Romy Schneider © Courtesy of Paul Ronald, Archivio Storico del Cinema, AFE
Delphine Seyrig © Keystone France
Anouk Aimée and Federico Fellini © Photo D.R
Gabrielle Chanel was always close to actresses. Was it because she mastered designing costumes, or because she herself had had dreams of a stage career in her youth? One of the first actresses to model Chanel’s hats in public was Gabrielle Dorziat.
Twenty years later, the couturiere was famous in the United States and beyond for her film costume designs. In 1931, the mute film star Gloria Swanson appeared in "Tonight or Never" clad in a long Chanel dress. In 1955, Marilyn Monroe captivated the world when she confessed to wearing only Chanel No. 5 in bed.
"The whole world of film making wants to wear Chanel," said the magazine "Elle" in November 1958. Many of Chanel’s clients were indeed actresses. Filmmakers including the New Wave directors asked Chanel to dress their leading ladies, among them the femmes fatales played by Jeanne Moreau in Louis Malle's "The Lovers" in 1958 and by Delphine Seyrig in "Last Year at Marienbad" in 1961.
Gabrielle Chanel also designed clothing worn on screen and in real life by Annie Girardot and Brigitte Bardot. She was friends with Anouk Aimée, spoke about literature with Jeanne Moreau, became a mentor to and admirer of Romy Schneider, instilling the art of charm in some, teaching the art of dressing to others.