Movie Mom: Juliette Binoche in Chocolat
Sweet but strong, Vianne Rocher stood up to a stuffy French town and looked great doing it
"Why can’t you wear black shoes like the other mothers?” quips Anouk to her mother in Lasse Hallström’s Chocolat. Starring French actress Juliette Binoche, the movie, based on the Joanne Harris’s 1999 novel of the same name, tells the story of Vianne Rocher and her struggle to gain acceptance in a traditionalist and conservative French village. Having opened a chocolaterie during the Lenten fast, Vianne and her daughter are not popular amongst the townspeople. But as a single mother facing adversities, Vianne maintains her confidence and equanimity as she battles the conservative oligarchy in a pair of red pumps.
Though the film is set in the 1950s, elements of Vianne’s audacious style are still visible in contemporary women’s fashion, with the look of the era seeing a resurgence in recent seasons. The style, influenced by Christian Dior’s “New Look,” with its full and pencil skirts, pastel colors, and ladylike accessories are very much en vogue today. And brands like Valentino, Nina Ricci, and Derek Lam have embraced the delicate and feminine qualities that personified the era in which women like Grace Kelly and Doris Day were the reigning style icons.
Apart from her spirit, what really sets Vianne apart is her Mayan ancestry. So costume designer Renee Ehrlich Kalfus constructed a wardrobe that emphasized the character’s strong personality and cultural heritage while keeping with the trends of the time, where silhouettes broke free from the austerity of wartime clothing and the harsh utility uniforms women wore in factories. The result is the look of a character who likes to stand out but still exude warmth and approachability.
Chocolat has a charm that both you and your children will enjoy. With a palpable relationship with her daughter, Johnny Depp as a love interest, and a killer wardrobe, Vianne Rocher is a truly inspiring mom. So much so that you may never want to wear black shoes again. —Barry Samaha
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Images from Chocolat courtesy of: © Lasse Hallstrom, lassehallstrom.com