Chanel F/W 2011-2012 – “Cocomaton”
I have spent many an afternoon and evening over the past few weeks ruminating upon the nature of this campaign. In fact, I found myself falling down a proverbial rabbit-hole as more questions about this campaign came to mind – curiouser and curiouser indeed! I promise to try and keep it simple.
From the setting it appears simple enough: Chanel Fall/Winter fashions set in a photobooth, accompanied by shots from the photobooth itself (photos about photos? How very meta.)
The cover, a close-up shot, highlights the text written upon Freja’s face: “Il n’y a pas de mode si elle ne descend dans la rue!” Loosely translated* it means “Fashion that does not reach the streets is not fashion!” It was here that my first questions arose: Is Chanel fashion? Is it on the streets? In Karl and Carine’s world, yes – this entire campaign is composed of Freja dressed as women of all sorts – from fresh-faced young girls with bows in their hair to grey-haired women of a certain age. Freja plays them all – the clown, the artist, the vamp, the waif – through to the downright odd (cat costume, anyone?).
On the real-life streets however, is a different story. The price of Chanel clothes is prohibitively expensive, thus limiting it to the spheres (or streets, if you will) of the rich and privileged. In these rarefied spheres where people wear Chanel it can be considered fashion. This understanding led me to another question: In spheres/streets where Chanel clothes are not worn, can Chanel still be considered fashion? After some thought the conclusion I came to was also yes, with further explanation. While not everyone can afford to wear the latest Chanel tweed (thereby maintaining its exclusivity), many of us can still participate in this rarefied sphere of luxury by buying other (read: cheaper) Chanel related items such as perfume, accessories and make-up – thus keeping Chanel on the streets, albeit in a different way than Coco intended (or perhaps not: there are several quotes left by Chanel that refer to perfume). The popularity of these items is indicative of the desirability of the brand – while not everyone can wear the clothes, we can still wear other things associated with the brand and feel part of the image that Chanel sells: style, elegance and luxury.
Finally, going back to the campaign: Karl and Carine have presented us with an intelligent, witty campaign that is not afraid to poke fun at itself or what is considered ‘high’ fashion (see: Freja with a Chanel boutique bag on her head – a new trend in the making?). Once again Freja does an amazing job – her poker face wants us to believe that she’s selling the clothes even when she’s dressed as a cat (thankfully the photobooth photos show us that she’s enjoying the joke as well). Throw in Baptiste’s eternal “Blue Steel” look and a Hitchcockian cameo from the Kaiser himself and you have a very fun, thought-provoking campaign.
*taken from gypsygeneration.wordpress
Link to the catalogue in PDF format: http://www.mediafire.com/?2twb6w7n98s7ktj