Posts Tagged ‘ Karl Lagerfeld ’

Chanel F/W 2011-2012 – “Cocomaton”

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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:


Chanel S/S 2011 – “A Summer In The South”

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I suspect that any serious collector of advertising campaigns would have a headache of a time doing so – chasing magazines for different images, often seeing the same two or three images over the course of the campaign season, with many images never seeing the light of day…

If only more companies would follow Chanel and collect each season’s advertising images into an attractive hard-cover book –  even if it is only available to boutiques, or sent to lucky VIPs (of which I am NOT one – I got my copy from eBay just like any other fan).

What a difference seeing all of the images together makes! While the single images looked unremarkable in a magazine, when collected together they create a wonderful atmosphere.

It would be easy to mistake the forest/garden setting for an autumn/winter campaign – however to do so would be to misunderstand Karl’s intentions. In fact, this cool, verdant setting is ideal for spring and summer – in not-so olden times, when air-conditioning was not readily available, travelling to the mountains and the forest served as the perfect antidote to too much sun exposure.

Another thing that could also be easily overlooked is how intimate the campaign is. Here, Karl has cast his favourite models: Inès de la Fressange, Stella Tennant, Baptiste and Freja. Having worked with Karl in many other campaigns we can see both the models’ and Karl’s fondness for each other, as well as how relaxed each person is modelling Karl’s vision (as well as Karl’s cheeky sense of humour – Stella hosing down a butt-naked Freja standing in a tub? How very un-high fashion.)

Karl’s photography could be described as workman-like: competent, reliable and at ease with the tools (and people) at his disposal. For a brand as established as Chanel, competence and reliability is precisely what is called for. I’m not often a fan of his photography, but this time it works for me.

Overall, I found the cool forest setting inspired and was ultimately won over by Karl’s choice of models – seeing Stella back in a Chanel ad gives me hope that Freja will also stick around for a long time 🙂

Here’s a link to the catalogue in PDF format:

Vogue Germany June 2011 – “Freja & Arizona”

When I first heard about this editorial I must admit that I was less than enthused. Karl had shot the couple less than 3 months before for Numero (March, 2011) and I wondered what new image he could possibly cast his current favourite pairing, Freja and Arizona. This time around the setting is much more subtle: music and instruments. In various shots Freja and Arizona are at the same instrument, presumably making sweet music together. Oh Karl, you romantic fool.

In fact this particular issue of Vogue Germany is all about couples. The three cover girls (Anja Rubik, Karolina Kurkova and Alessandra Ambrosio) are photographed with their respective dashing partners and each couple has an accompanying editorial inside. So where is Freja and Arizona’s cover? Nowhere to be seen and presumably not without reason.

Let’s go back to the word subtle. The word ‘subtle’ applies to many aspects of this editorial. Firstly, this editorial happens to appear alongside other editorials of couples – yet Freja and Arizona are not mentioned as such. To the unknowing reader this editorial would slip past, but for those in the know… well, we know.

In a broader sense the word ‘subtle’ could quite easily apply to Freja and Arizona as well. While numerous twitterbugs have spotted the two in NY and around the globe, the couple have not come out officially about their relationship. At this point it’s worthwhile to remember the strange state of celebrity that models inhabit: of being in the public eye while not necessarily being well-known to the public – well-known models like the Supers, Kate and Gisele are at the top of an industry that encompasses thousands of lesser-known/unknown faces.

Freja and Arizona’s jobs as models is to sell clothes and brands, not necessarily their private lives. Nor are they obliged to do so. Perhaps Karl’s editorials, along with Terry Richardson’s pictures, are publicly the best and most subtle way of acknowledging the relationship between these two.

And the final word on subtlety – this time regarding Karl’s photography. Karl has opted for a dark background this time, while in Numero it was stark white. Coupled with his standard use of black and white photography, the effect is rather drab – shadows on faces and bodies meld into the background and leave the image rather flat. I tend to let a print viewing decide my final opinion and this was no exception. Viewing it in print only served to highlight composition problems with the editorial – while on screen it looks as though the two are sitting intimately together – look again at where the borders of the scanned pages are: on double page spreads it meant that Freja’s face and Arizona’s face often run towards the curl and spine of the magazine, thus further obscuring both models faces and clothes.

So I must say after all that ranting – genuinely disappointing.