17 March 2009

Smells and Sights

After months of wondering what Sofia Coppola has been up to, I finally found proof that she's been doing more than just posing for Louis Vuitton advertisements with her father...she's created a perfume commercial for Miss Dior Cherie.

At first I hated it. It all seemed too much - the sunglasses, the pastries, the bike, the balloons, the ribbons and the muted color palette set to the exuberant "moi je jeu" yelping of BrigitteBardot all reeked of a saccharine sweet whimsy. She seemed like she'd know better than this. Plus, I had already made fun of the print ad - what was I to do when one of my favorite directors decided to put the overdone concept to music and movement?

And why a perfume commercial? The inherent absurdity of selling perfume through a visual medium is too comical, and yet, these commercials have been around since the 1970s, selling nothing but the brand and the mood. It's manipulation to the extreme and a weird way for talented directors to exercise creativity. You'd think they'd be more inclined to direct a music video.

As you may have guessed, Miss Coppola is not alone. A modest search turned up a number of perfume commercials directed by lauded artists. Luc Besson directs a Chanel No. 5 spot, featuring a strange Little Red Riding Hood tale with model Estelle Warren and a score by Danny Elfman.

There's also the hyped Baz Luhrmann Chanel shortfilmbutstillacommercial spot with Nicole Kidman, the tan fellow from Love Actually enacting some sort of Britney Spears' "Lucky" meets "Moulin Rouge" meets "Notting Hill" plot. At least Claire de Lune is pretty as background music.

And finally, to no one's surprise, David Lynch seems to have been quite the fan of perfume advertisements in the early 90s, collaborating with his longstanding cinematographer Frederick Elmes (Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, etc.) to create spots for Yves Saint Laurent, Calvin Klein and Giorgio Armani (shown below).

Compared to the other ads, Miss Coppola's was by far the most fun, and perhaps a little tongue in cheek. The others were so dramatic, it was hard to tell whether or not they were striving for melodrama or irony. And yet, even though the Dior ad may be growing on me, I'm still not inclined to purchase the perfume, or even to try it. Does that mean it's a failure?

1 comment:

Katie said...

I'm with the second half of your divided self - I don't know why Sofia Coppola would want to expend her talents on creating a perfume ad, but I can certainly understand Chanel's motivations... the video is a veritable chef-d'oeuvre of aspirationable advertising.
This little film makes me want to shed my functional Ann Taylor slacks in a heap and flounce around a foreign city nibbling twee pastries and kissing cute boys. Who wouldn't want a little piece of that for $65.50?!


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