Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cagematch Style: Chanel vs. Dior

In questionable economic times, it's no secret that the luxury brands are going through a bit of a rough patch. Not as many shoppers can afford their wares anymore, so they've all put their marketing teams on the Def-Con 5 alert, and turning to newer forms of media for advertising. Established brands like Chanel and Dior have used the internet for advertising before, but not like this. They've all got Twitter accounts (now that's just weird), and a lot of brands are putting out these short film/commercial clips. These clips are still selling a product, or rather, a brand image, but not as obviously as the usual commercial, as they're styled, shot, and directed like short films. It's an unusual concept, but I like it. The two most well-known (not counting that Prada fairy cartoon thing) are the Dior and the Chanel No. 5 films, starring Marion Cotillard and Audrey Tautou respectively. Watch the Dior Film below, and watch the Chanel film here.

These two films are realllllly different, so I thought it would be fun to analyze/compare them (yes, I do have a lot of time on my hands. Why do you ask?). In terms of casting, they both get an A+. Marion Cotillard is so, so very Dior, and Audrey Tautou is basically Coco Chanel. As for the boys (of course they have to have love interests), you can't really see the guy in the Dior commercial, so I'm ignoring that, and the guy in the Chanel commercial is smoking, albeit kind of a stalker (which I'll forgive in the light of the smokingess). They also get an A+ for direction/cinematography. The Chanel film has a lush, sultry feeling and golden lighting throughout, which work nicely with the location (Istanbul!) and the perfume itself, whereas the Dior film is very black/white and stark, going along with its film noire theme. I want to live in both of those little worlds, and travel in a train as chic as the one from the Chanel commercial--hello, gorgeous. That's how trains should be.

The plots are the major letdowns here. I get that they're essentially clothing/perfume commercials, but if you're going to shoot them like movies, give them plausible plots. The Chanel plot is a little better. She's wearing the perfume, cute guy on train is intoxicated by it, they keep running into each other, etc. I get it in theory, but the guy comes off as a super-creepy stalker who likes to stand really, really close behind Audrey Tautou. Chanel used a similar thing in the Nicole Kidman Chanel No. 5 commercial from a few years ago (the Moulin Rouge one), but it seemed much more natural there. The Dior plot is even more ridiculous. Something about a guy being kidnapped that Marion Cotillard must save by climbing the Eiffel tower and flirting with mobsters. There's a helicopter involved. It's absolute nonsense. It's part of a multi-part series, so maybe things will be clarified, but as it is now, don't even bother paying attention to the plot. You'll just end up with a headache and frown lines. The film noir vibe does make for great eye candy, however, so it's not a total loss.

The styling is quite different, but then again, so are Chanel and Dior. Audrey Tautou wears a series of adorable outfits that don't come across as uniquely chanel, but are quite adorable (except the jumpsuit at the end. Minus 10,000 points for the jumpsuit). There isn't much Chanel product placement aside from the perfume itself. Marion Cotillard wears one outfit throughout the film, and it's a very, very Dior outfit. Her heels and sunglasses are FIERCE, but it is annoying that she's carrying a Dior bag very, very obviously, and has to slowly pull a bunch of Dior accessories out of it. We get it. Buy Dior leather goods. Moving on. I'm willing to forgive the annoying product placement for Marion Cotillard's FIERCE (I miss Project Runway) smokey eye, and it's a glossy smokey eye, nonetheless. Watch it just for that, and you won't be disappointed, I promise. Extra points to Dior for having their Spring campaign with Marion Cotillard (you know, the one where she's perched on the Eiffel tower) be a still from this film. Continuity is never a bad thing.

So, all in all, they're two very pretty little adventures, well-cast, well-styled, and well-shot, if a little light on the plot development (or logic). But honestly, with all that luxury eye candy, a plot might just get in the way. For those of you who made it through my rambling--I like to hear myself talk--I rounded up some stills for you. Enjoy!

Dior Film and Stills:
Chanel Stills:

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