The very first images of Tilda Swinton’s advertising campaign for Chanel’s Paris-Edinburgh collection, shot by Karl Lagerfeld himself, came out this week, and if anyone can make a 52-year-old woman who kinda looks like David Bowie into the sexiest style icon alive, it’s Uncle Karl. The man has seen everything in his days. He’s partied at Studio 54, starred in Andy Warhol films and when he needs a new challenge, he turns his cat into the most in-demand supermodel working today. Say what you will about the fashion world, but Lagerfeld is a living example that true artistic genius is alive and well in the land of haute couture. These five Chanel campaigns are proof that sometimes, to appreciate a modern masterpiece, all you have to do is flip through a magazine or turn on the TV…
Chanel Coco Mademoiselle The Film starring Keira Knightley
We’ve all had dreams where we’re the model for a photo shoot and wind up getting totally seduced by the photographer and end up having a passionate night of wild one-night-stand antics. Just don’t start these fantasies too early in life, or you’ll wind up with some seriously uncomfortable Jostens school photo shoots that you’ll have to explain to your parents. This ad for Chanel Coco Mademoiselle featuring Keira Knightley was so hot that it got banned in the UK from airing during children’s programming… which is probably a good thing for the aforementioned reason as to why photographer fantasies can be dangerous when incited too early in life. I am still trying to block out how many buttons I undid for my Grade 8 school portrait. Sorry, Mom!
Chanel No. 5 starring Brad Pitt
Last year, Brad Pitt signed a multi-million dollar contract to be the face of the famous women’s fragrance Chanel No. 5. In his first highly criticized commercial for the fragrance, the most famous actor in the entire world looks directly into the camera and says: “It’s not a journey, every journey ends and we go on… Wherever I go, there you are.” Yeah, that sounds totally batsh*t crazy, but I once agreed with a really hot guy when he told me that humans were merely aliens’ pawns in an intergalactic scheme to destroy earth’s ozone. This ad got spoofed by everyone from Saturday Night Live to FunnyOrDie, proving that humans might not be aliens’ pawns, but we’re definitely the puppets of Karl Lagerfeld, amirite? Everyone in the world saw this ad or at least a spoof of it (probably even in the Congo, thanks to Brad Pitt’s involvement), imprinting the Chanel logo on our collective unconscious, and that’s why it’s genius.
Chanel No. 5 The Film starring Nicole Kidman
An ad that unfolds like a mesmerizing mini movie is the holy grail of the advertising world, and fortunately Lagerfeld has people like Baz Luhrmann, Nicole Kidman and Rodrigo Santoro on his free long-distance call list. That must have made all the difference when Uncle Karl decided to finance this $42 million dollar mini movie for Chanel No. 5 that’s Notting Hill meets Moulin Rouge! back in 2004.
Chanel Egoiste for Men directed by Jean Paul Goude
So, we know Karl Lagerfeld is the Mick Jagger of the fashion world: A man who’s work from decades ago stands the test of time and still looks fresh and awesome today. This throwback ad for Chanel Egoiste, directed by Jean Paul Goude in 1990, would work if it was released this summer or even in 2034. Goude is like a totally under-the-radar version Lagerfeld – a man who has worked as an image consultant for Grace Jones and who understands the importance of having a muse. Side note fashion prediction: Muses will be back in 2014, so start obsessing over someone now, and hire said person to be your “intern.”
Chanel No. 5 starring Audrey Tautou
Almost half a decade after the Kidman-Luhrmann collab for Chanel, the fashion house recruited Amelie star Audrey Tautou, who famously played Coco Chanel in Coco Avant Chanel, to star in this Chanel No. 5 mini-movie, shot by Amelie filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The short film follows Tautou as she has multiple run-ins with a stranger, played by model Travis Davenport, as she makes her way from Paris to Istanbul on the Orient Express. The last time I had multiple run-ins with a stranger while traveling across Europe, all I lost was my passport and my dignity… and my fake Chanel purse.