© Courtesy of Paul Ronald, Archivio Storico del Cinema, AFE
VISCONTI & CHANEL
In 1936, at the age of 30, Luchino Visconti arrived in Paris, an artistic, intellectual and political hub during the pre-war period.
When he met Gabrielle Chanel, he was stunned by her mixture of "feminine beauty, masculine intelligence, and outstanding energy." He invited her to Italy and introduced her to his family. Gabrielle Chanel was instrumental in getting Jean Renoir to let him watch a film shooting.
The film director did better than that: hiring Luchino as an assistant and help choose costumes for two of his major films, "The Lower Depths" and "A Day in the Country", to which Gabrielle Chanel also contributed. This experience made a deep impression on Luchino, deciding him to pursue a career in film making.
After producing such masterpieces as "La Terra Trema", "Senso", and "Rocco and His Brothers", Luchino met Gabrielle Chanel again, in 1962. He asked her to design the costumes for "Boccaccio'70", and to teach the film’s leading actress, Romy Schneider, her sense of elegance.
The camera follows Romy as she appears successively attired in a brocade clothing, a negligee, and a cream suit. She moves around gracefully, ties a belt on her dress. In front of her mirror, she adjusts her pearl necklace and hair. The transformation has taken place. Romy has metamorphosed into a "femme fatale", a mixture of charm and elegance.
Chanel and Visconti remained lifelong friends.