Actress to play iconic designer in her later years

Lifetime has its designs on “Coco Chanel,” a miniseries featuring Shirley MacLaine as the fashion icon.

MacLaine will play the designer in her later years, as she set out to re-establish her reputation as a fashion trendsetter. Barbora Bobulova (“In Love and War”) will play the younger Chanel.

Christian Duguay (“Human Trafficking,” “Hitler: The Rise of Evil”) is set to direct. Alchemy Television Group is behind the project, which has just begun principal photography.

Two-part mini will run in 2008 on Lifetime. Besides Alchemy, the international production is also from Lux Vide SpA and Pampa Productions; in addition, Rai and France 2 are involved alongside Lifetime.

Enrico Medioli (“Once Upon a Time in America”) penned the script, which follows the rise of Chanel, starting with her upbringing in an orphanage outside Paris. Mini actually opens with Chanel’s move to reinvent herself in her 70s, after spending years in exile.

Duguay said he was intrigued by the story of Chanel, and didn’t want to simply make a longform about fashion.

“We’ve worked hard with it, and turned it into something that is meaningful and worth making an event miniseries,” he said. “There’s no point in doing it if it won’t educate people and entertain, but in an original way. It’s a love story, it’s a rags-to-riches story, it has some strong social statements about women and about how the world has changed.”

According to Duguay, Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld has given his blessing to the miniseries; the famed design house is even working closely with the production to get things right.

For example, costume designer Stefano de Nardis (“Gangs of New York”), is working with the House of Chanel to recreate Coco Chanel’s designs.

Chanel, who died in 1971, was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

Alchemy’s other credits include the Golden Globe-nominated mini “The Company.” Projects in production include the longforms “Diamonds” (starring Judy Davis) and “Burn Up.”

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