Behind-the-scenes with Marion Cotillard in Chanel No. 5’s new holiday film
29 October 2020
Ahead of Chanel No. 5’s 100th anniversary, Chanel’s Thomas du Pré de Saint Maur talks exclusively to Vogue Singapore on the iconic scent and the making of this dream-fuelled holiday film
In a season where travel is off limits, the world’s most famous fragrance in the world, Chanel No. 5 invites us to revel in dreams and travel to the moon with its new face, Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard. Selected by Thomas du Pré de Saint Maur, Chanel’s head of global creative resources fragrance and beauty, the whimsical film stars Cotillard and Jérémie Bélingard, former principal dancer at Opéra de Paris and Cotillard’s leading man on la lune.
Directed by Johan Renck, Cotillard enchants with her rendition of Lorde’s ‘Royals’ as she and her mysterious dream lover dance and embrace on the moon. The message is one of hope, as Chanel No. 5’s new chapter combines joy and reverie with dreams and the power of love to bring us together, even in spirit.
For this film, Renck imagined leaving Earth “to let escapism define some aspects of love: to find a domain owned by only the two of you. That’s what love can feel like, right?” Cotillard represents the very essence of No. 5 for Renck, who was drawn to her “playful sophistication and sensuality intertwined with a modern femininity. She represents the ability to perpetually renew herself; thus being mercurial, yet magnetic. And she represents integrity; possibly most of all.”
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Did @MarionCotillard ever think that one day she would dance on the moon? We chatted exclusively to her about her experience working on @ChanelOfficial’s stunning new video for the iconic fragrance, from the intricate choreography to how she helped in the tailoring of the dress. #MarionCotillard #ChanelNo5
The No. 5 state of mind
“No. 5, before anything, is an idea,” explains Thomas du Pré de Saint Maur. Du Pré de Saint Maur’s role is about creating conversations between the storied house’s heritage and writing new chapters of its future. He has been responsible for some of Chanel’s most iconic imagery, such as 2014’s Chanel No. 5 film with Baz Luhrmann and Gisele Bündchen, and 2019’s Jean-Paul Goude film starring Lily-Rose Depp.
Philosophising on life and the intention of No. 5, he adds: “As long as you’ve decided to keep going, you will unfold new things.” On the new film, which is as mysterious and abstract as the scent itself, he says that the idea of telling the story of a dream becoming a reality was director Renck’s idea. “He is a great talent with the ability to share narratives in a short period of time, and also is a great guy to work with.”
The singularity of Chanel parfums
From its youthful Chance scent to seductive Allure, and beyond, du Pré de Saint Maur says the red thread that connects each scent of the house is “that idea about focusing yourself, on betting your energy on the things that you think are the most important and essential in you. The most precious thing that everyone has, the most valuable thing that we can bring to the world, [are the things that] make us unique and different.
“No. 5 is more articulated in femininity, but it’s the one that most carries the idea about self-accomplishment. Not in a way that you would describe a woman as accomplished in that she’s perfect; that she’s reached her goal—because that’s very boring. It’s a woman that has no issue exploring her femininity. It’s that very fluid and organic ability of being every one that you can be. This is what we call being ‘accomplished’ and you can be like that at age 25, 30, 35 or 40. And it’s not a matter of age or maturity, it’s just a matter of how you embrace all the possibilities that you have.”
For him, the No. 5 woman embodies contradiction of freedom and rigour. “It’s almost as if there are rules that No. 5 imposes itself and that the No. 5-wearing woman decides to accept: being social, being cultural, being very well-maintained. But within that, there’s an immense feeling of freedom and unexpectancy. So, it’s kind of a free order.” He highlights the clean, minimalistic flacon, describing it as “very classical but also revolutionary” in its time. “And it’s the same thing for the No. 5 woman. You see both dimensions: someone who behaves in a certain way, understands there are rules, but understands that you can only be free if you have rules. When people describe a French woman and a Chanel woman, they say there’s something ‘chic and effortless’. But it’s because you know where the boundaries are.”
An icon endures
The scent was named in an age when names of fragrances were florid and sentimental. Doing away with a ready-made narrative, with this scent, there’s just lucky—and irreverent for its time—number five. Instead of projecting a fantasy on a name, Coco went with the fifth sample Beaux presented her. “It’s not attached to a style. The juice itself, the abstract construction of the flacon, I think, is what makes it durable.”
Can the success of this inimitable icon be replicated? “I keep asking myself why this fragrance? And in general, why some things have a feeling of timelessness and why others don’t. If you think, ‘Oh, I’m going to be doing a timeless product’, you are most probably going to be doing a very boring product,” he reasons. “What makes a product timeless, as well as what makes a friend timeless, is that every time I’m exposed to it, the experience I have of it makes sense for the period I’m in. There’s nothing more boring than just applying something that becomes mechanical.”
“Wearing a fragrance is a very intimate gesture,” Cotillard offers. “A fragrance reveals something about the identity of the person who wears it. We enter, paradoxically, into the depth of a person’s soul. No. 5 doesn’t have the same scent from one person’s skin to another and yet, it is still recognisable. It’s fascinating. It is a fragrance whose composition is so particular, so subtle, that it becomes different and unique on every woman.”
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