Fashion on TV: Coco Chanel to Sex and the City

New York fashion week brings out the kitty claws in some people.

Susan Sarandon’s daughter sniffs that mommy actually wears her gym clothes into the night. Oh, the horror. Just where did Eva Amurri, 23, learn her fashion sense then? She says through her pals in the industry, but we suspect that Eva, like so many of us, learned everything we know about fashion through television.

This week, it’s not just a coincidence that Lifetime is trotting out a miniseries based on the life of fashion icon Coco Chanel. Coco Chanel premieres at 8 p.m. Saturday on Lifetime spinning the tale of the little French orphan girl who becomes a dressmaker apprentice in 1912 Paris before being whisked away by a nobleman who takes her to live at his country estate. Don’t you hate that when that happens?

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Shirley MacLaine as Coco Chanel in the Lifetime miniseries “”Coco Chanel” premiereing at 8 p.m. Sept. 13 on Lifetime.

She struggles. She wins in love, she loses in love. She wins in fashion, she loses in fashion, she makes a dramatic comeback. It’s all there, with Barbora Bobulova playing the young Coco and Shirley MacLaine playing the designer in her later years.

MacLaine says she talked to Audrey Hepburn when the two were making Children’s Hour about playing Chanel.

“(We) were talking about the contradictions, the ambition, the need for love, the search for beauty, et cetera, that fashion designers had because I didn’t know much about fashion, and she told me that I should play Coco Chanel,” MacLaine says. “And I said, “Well Coco Chanel was little and scrunched over and very short.” And she said, “No, but the spirit of the woman is what matches your spirit.” Now, I found Coco to be everything between generous and rude. So I don’t know what Audrey really meant.”

MacLaine says she loved Chanel’s contradiction, her colorful rudeness and her ability to improvise a new outfit in 10 seconds.

“I loved her conflict between love and ambition and her conflict between how to get stuff done and not be hurtful,” MacLaine says. “I think we’re both colorful. I think we’re both rude. I think we’re both spontaneous. We both can’t hold what we feel to be the honest opinion in. “

So once you pass the fashion history class provided by this miniseries, you can move on with your education by watching these top ten TV fashion shows:

10. High School Musical – I’ve seen subtler fashion statements coming out of the ToonTown characters, but this series of TV movies seem to speak to a new generation of fashionistas with the crazy colors and wild styles that include a lot of pink. And Argyle. Who knew the roadster cap could make a comeback? We haven’t seen clothes this gaudy since our last visit to a retirement home golf course.

9. Gossip Girl – One word: Argyle. When did this become hot fashion territory? Every time I see what hideous fashion statement Chuck is making this week, I think that if he was attending any other high school in America he’d be headed for Wedgie city with a side trip to trash can town. Yet, fans seem to be transfixed by his sartorial charm. Go figure.

8.Privileged – This new series just jumped out of the gate, and immediately went to the fashion jugular. Megan is just one big fashion don’t as she tries to make her way in the Big Apple. She gets sent to the minor leagues in trendy Palm Beach as a tutor for some rich kids who let her know in no uncertain terms that her togs just aren’t acceptable. She wows them in the pilot this week when she dresses up for the ball, or at least a big social event. We expect this is just the beginning of fashion awareness for our sweet Megan.

7. 90210 – The original sparked a whole new way of dressing for high schoolers across the country with trends like Reebok shoes, scrunchies and acid washed jeans. Will this new incarnation do the same? We like the bold colorful prints, headbands and the splash of vintage clothing.

6. Lipstick Jungle – Speak of the devils who wear Prada. This series, which will be filmed this season in New York, is all about how our Sex in the City wannabes drape themselves in gorgeous outfits

5. The Hills – Again, we head for The Hills. No matter what the trend, The Hills are at the top: Heidi’s Hermes hand bag, Whitney’s MK2K ruffled dress or Stephanie’s orka mesica bracelet (all available here online.

4. What Not to Wear – This is like the Bible of fashion know-how. They transform every day folk into trendy, chic chicks. Who can forget Laurie with her mullet hair cut and baggy, hopelessly dated duds? Clinton and Stacy turned her into a sophisticated knock-out, giving hope to dumpy women everywhere.

3. Ugly Betty – While Betty’s bad fashion taste – who can forget the poncho? – has been juxtaposed against the high fashion world of Mode magazine, this season she comes into her own. Well, let’s just say that her kooky couture gets a fashion jolt with a few designer pieces. After all, she’s got the keys to the biggest fashion closet in New York City, so she might as well snag some swag.

2. Project Runway – Who knew tossing a bunch of odd ducks into a sewing room could be so mesmerizing? Last season Christian Siriano wowed us with his fashion confections. This season, we’re a little less enthralled by the designers. But it never gets old hearing Tim Gunn proclaim, “Make it work.” This season, the designers whipped up a new frock for Brooke Shield’s character on Lipstick Jungle.

1. Sex in the City – No TV fashion list worth its salt would forget the mother of all fashion forward scripted shows. Carrie Bradshaw spoke to us like Moses coming down from the mountain top, bringing us all into the world of fashion. Anyone who would put groceries or rent above a great pair of Manolo Blahnik’s just wasn’t thinking straight.

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