Another project, Chanel and Stravinsky: The Secret Story, will tell the story of the designer’s brief but intense love affair with the cosmopolitan Russian composer.

A third film, made for television and starring six-time Oscar nominee, Shirley MacLaine, will be screened next month in France and the US.

Born Gabrielle Chanel in 1883, the woman who would go on to become the short-haired, red-lipped, fast-talking Coco still commands enormous respect the world over.

Her legacy is such that deliciously scented hordes of fans descend on her Paris apartment every year and, thanks to Karl Lagerfeld, the brand she created in the 1920s is going from strength to strength.

So it is perhaps not surprising that there is such an appetite for learning more about the woman behind the interlocking Cs.

“Coco Chanel is a very important woman for the French,” said Hugues Royer, a former professor of philosophy and a journalist at Voici, France’s biggest-selling celebrity magazine. “She was a woman who liberated other women. She gave them power – a very feminine kind of power.”

With this explosion of cinematic interest, Chanel is the latest in a rapidly lengthening line of Gallic superstars whose lives and loves have been pounced upon by film directors as fodder for biopics, a relatively recent phenomenon in France. The writer Françoise Sagan and the singer Edith Piaf have both proved recent box-office successes.

According to Royer, the new craze is a sign that France is waking up to the culture of celebrity so long embraced by the British and Americans.

“It represents a new state of mind in France, in which the lives of celebrities have become just as interesting as those of fictional characters. Celebrity has become the modern religion,” he said, adding it was something of a top-down trend.

“[Nicolas] Sarkozy is very much part of this,” he added. “We now have a president who divorced and remarried a supermodel.”

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