March 27, 2023
French fashion house Chanel is tapping into the transformative spirit of brand ambassador Kristen Stewart in the newest campaign slot.
The American actor is the muse for the brand’s ready-to-wear selection, speaking to the power of reinvention and self-evolution in the accompanying visuals. Set against the two contrasting French backdrops of urban Paris and the coastal south, the cinematic showcase played with the idea of complementary contradictions and rebirth.
"Chanel's spring/summer ready-to-wear campaign featuring Kristen Stewart focuses on personal evolution and transformation, showcasing how fashion can impact one's confidence and desire to start fresh every day," said Dalia Strum, founder of ReThink Connect and professor at The Fashion Institute of Technology, New York.
"This approach emphasizes a mindset shift that encourages finding a balance between masculine and feminine energy, irrespective of the outcome of the previous day," Ms. Strum said. "Personal evolution was chosen as the central theme in the campaign as it aligns with the values of modern luxury consumers.
"Today's consumers are looking for products and experiences that align with their personal growth and values, and this campaign's focus on personal evolution resonates with this desire."
The selection is now available in Chanel boutiques.
Shot by the Dutch-American duo Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, known as Inez & Vinoodh, the campaign is rich with meditative narrative and French visuals.
Ms. Stewart is the named muse for the collection, bringing with her soulful views on life, authentic taste in fashion and a deep love of France. The result is a notably dark collection compared to other luxury brands’ spring and summer releases, making for a memorable drop amid the sea of lighthearted campaigns filled with nautical cuts and floral prints that dominate luxury fashion during this time of year.
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"Transformation is communicated through the visuals of the campaign, which showcase changing scenery and a variety of outfit choices," Ms. Strum said.
"These elements reflect the idea that fashion can be a tool for self-expression and transformation, empowering consumers to experiment with their style and identity," she said. "The campaign highlights the power of fashion to reinvent oneself through outfit choices and the impact clothing can have on one's confidence."
This specific campaign is deeply rooted in French cinema, presenting scenes of Ms. Stewart in black-and-white visiting a Parisian cinema house in the 90-second film.
Chanel has long supported the actor’s affinity for the art form, honoring not only her work as an actor, but her film festival positions. Recently, the brand spotlighted her placement as International Jury President at the Berlin International Film Festival (see story).
The CHANEL Spring-Summer 2023 Ready-to-Wear collection campaign
Ms. Stewart exits independently, presenting an image of a woman in charge of herself, enjoying film without the permission of others. Cut in between Ms. Stewart being shown exiting the theater are scenes of her looking out over the streets from her classic balcony, taking in the city reverently as she wears lightly colored pieces.
As she leaves the theater, she is stopped by a news reporter, holding a microphone that is marked decidedly with “TV” on it. The exiting crowd buzzes with conversation, donned in tuxedos and Parisian attire, as the reporter, obscured from view, asks the question, “What makes you hopeful about the future?”
With a quick cut to her on her balcony, curtains billowing, Ms. Stewart pauses with the question at the theater, allowing for viewers to pause alongside her and consider this concept of hope; of their own futures.
This is a powerful moment, and it especially resonates with younger audiences due to the embrace of modernity. The optimism and consideration of what lies ahead is something that other luxury brands are incorporating into their own messaging in an effort to bring in young consumers, as the demographic is gaining significant spending power (see story).
“You know, we’re living in such an accelerated period of growth, it gives me whiplash – it’s exhilarating,” Ms. Stewart says.
“It’s highly pressurized because our identities are these lifelong, evolving art projects,” she says. “To know who you are is to adopt an animal subject to change – it’s not a fixed notion.
“The mythologies that define us, that unite us, they’re ours to create and everything is on the table.”
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Her ode to transformation narrates the rest of the scenes, presenting scenes that seem as if they were taken out of French films such as cafe shots, as well as futuristic touches with Ms. Stewart being shown walking backward down a Parisian street, riding the subway and surrounded by mirrors.
“It’s no longer important to know who you are, or even what you want,” she tells the reporter.
“I think it’s important to burn down your very best yesterday, every day, so you can start again.”
And with that, a bell rings, she looks into the camera, and someone yells “cut” – a further nod to the world of cinema set against this musing on existence in the modern world.
Chanel is further pushing the idea of transformation by allowing space for contradictions.
Not only is the campaign film laced with competing visuals (that of soft and dark colors, and classic, glamorous Paris versus modern Paris), but the collection’s photography also features an added level of the idea, using France as a medium.
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The photos switch off between featuring the black-and-white classicism of Paris, and the ethereal warmth of the south of France. Not only are the settings contradictory, but the pieces featured are as well, with the collection being made up of both gothic colors and modern cuts, as well as vintage styles in lighthearted colors.
"What sets the visuals of this campaign apart is their unique blend of contrasting elements," Ms. Strum said.
"The campaign features a mix of masculine and feminine styles, transparent and opaque fabrics, and shiny and matte textures, all of which reflect Chanel's signature style of simplicity and sophistication."
Ms. Stewart embodies this dualism, fully stepping into both looks and settings, showing the range of the human spirit, and her ability to reinvent herself – a theme many luxury brands are embracing as of late through expanding gender ranges and changing logos (see story). However, Chanel's expression of reinvention stands out.
"This approach distinguishes Chanel from other luxury brands that may focus on more traditional marketing messages," Ms. Strum said.
"By showcasing the transformative power of fashion and individuality, the campaign encourages consumers to embrace their personal evolution and think outside the box."