REVIEW / OPINION OF FILM – “Haute Couture” by Sylvie Ohayon tells the story of the beautiful and improbable meeting of two women who are opposed to each other but whom the art of haute couture brings together. With Nathalie Baye, Lina Khoudri and Pascale Arbillot.
From the heart to the work
Some films very quickly give the impression of a familiar proximity to the characters. No doubt because they are well drawn and interpreted with accuracy and their reactions seem natural and credible. This is the case of High fashion, the second feature film by director Sylvie Ohayon, who is also a screenwriter. She shows in parallel her two endearing heroines in the early morning before their chance meeting. Esther (Nathalie Baye) thus speaks to her flowers and Jade (Lyna Khoudri, already a seamstress in Papicha) does the four hundred strokes with her friend Souad (Soumaye Bocoum).
Everything seems to oppose the two women, whose family lives are far from enveloping. Thus the age, the activity, the social environment, the place of life and even the religion. Singularities that the director sets as a skilful backdrop, in the same way as life in cities and immigration. But these are not the real subjects of his film. Haute Couture indeed addresses the very meaning of life and the way in which it is found to flourish.
Esther, first studio in the great Dior fashion house, has sacrificed everything for her art, to the detriment of her daughter, whom she no longer sees. At the dawn of his retirement, she is given the opportunity to pass on her know-how and values one last time. Jade, who is bored in her city and spends time pickpocketing with Souad, is far from being the easiest trainee and the most delighted to learn. She is already struggling to cope with the depression of her mother Mumu (Clotilde Courau) and is ready to give up on many occasions. For her part, Esther fears having made a mistake about the young girl and sometimes regrets having trusted her.
From one thing to another
Because Haute Couture is a nice movie about trust, trust given and trust received. And what is very touching about the film is how the strength of this confidence can give birth to a vocation and give meaning to the life of a young girl with no plans and no future. But whose skillful hands and gift for beauty and fine work are revealed in broad daylight.
Esther and Jade will thus go beyond “Life by proxy” by Jean-Jacques Goldman, a generic song at the beginning, which could suggest that one was looking for a girl and the other a mother. They will transform in contact with each other and learn to respect each other with affection. From master to disciple. Then of equal to equal. Jade’s evolution will obviously be the most radical since from a tomboy swearing like a carter, she will open up to her own femininity and fashion.
The great success of Haute Couture, it is to show in the back office the work of the seamstresses who are busy, each in their place. We had already seen him in the film Phantom Thread with Daniel Day Lewis as a tortured creator. Like a beehive in which Esther reigns, the Dior workshop rustles with taffeta, precisely cut tulles or delicately ironed dresses. She is helped by the gentle Catherine (Pascale Arbillot), who behaves like a big sister to Jade, by the beautiful assistant Abdel (Adam Bessa) and the understanding model Gloria (Alexandra Turcan). But Jade also has to face the grumbling Andrée (Claude Perron), who takes pleasure in putting a spade in her wheels and reminding her of her origins. Because Jade must prove herself and Esther’s attention to her is not enough.
Even if Jade’s entourage is not very convincing, High fashion turns out to be a beautiful film, like the creations born of rare fabrics brilliantly assembled. The film manages to evoke with sensitivity and without claim the functioning of the social elevator in our society, giving credence to the recognition of talents and outstretched hands.
High fashion by Sylvie Ohayon, in theaters on November 10, 2021 – Above the trailer. Find all our trailers here.