Following in the fashionable footsteps of Nicole Kidman (who shot her CHANEL N°5 campaign with Moulin Rouge director Baz Lurhmann in 2004), French actress Audrey Tautou will be the new face of the legendary fragrance in their upcoming fall campaign working with Jean-Pierre Jeunet – who directed Tatou in her breakout role in Amélie. Beyond this partnership, Tautou has also landed the coveted role of the infamous Mlle. Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel in the film adaptation of the designer’s life set to be released online at chaneln5.com May 6th, 2009. ELLECanada.com gained exclusive access to the interview with Audrey Tautou. Read on to hear more about the campaign, why she believes she was the perfect choice for the role and how she could never love a man who didn’t love CHANEL N°5.
Q: Did you know the House of Chanel before embarking on this adventure?
Audrey Tautou: Since the release of Amelie and even before then, I have been very lucky. I have worn dresses lent to me by CHANEL and enjoyed a good, warm relationship with the people there. They are very generous and have always been like that with me — even before I became such a big name.
Q: What do you think of Karl Lagerfeld?
AT: He’s a very impressive person. He certainly makes a big impression on me! He is extremely charismatic, a very unique person, so incredibly gifted … I’m often intimidated by people who are very witty and cultivated, but he is genuinely a nice person.
Q: How does it feel to be the face of No.5?
AT: It’s not really a phrase that comes to mind; it hasn’t really sunk in yet. Even now, I find it hard to believe because I think the big difference with this story and this perfume is the way in which things have been organized. The fact that the film has been directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the fact that it is CHANEL N°5… I think it all goes beyond my image and my character. I fell more like I’ve become involved in the story of this perfume and the story of film-making with Jean-Pierre Jeunet rather than becoming the image or face of this fragrance. For me, CHANEL N°5 is a legend in itself. You can wear it, offer it as a gift and share it, but it transcends all the women who have embodied the fragrance before me.
Q: Among the previous faces of N°5 are Catherine Deneuve, Carole Bouquet and, more recently, Nicole Kidman. How do you feel about belonging to such a dynasty?
AT: It’s not bad, is it? I even wonder what I’m doing here! No, it’s a strange thing really. But I see it as something new; I don’t compare myself with these great actresses, I don’t see myself as part of their lineage. I feel closer to the fragrance itself, its history and even Coco Chanel — more than all these famous women who have worn it, like Marilyn Monroe. I am very flattered and very honoured; I would add that perhaps my vision of myself is not quite the vision that others have of me.
Q: You’re too modest?
AT: No, I’m happy. It may seem pretentious, but I think it was a good choice! The fragrance is very French. While I’m not a chauvinist in any way, there is something refined, elegant and delicate — and no, I’m not describing myself — but it’s often what people tell me they associate with French women. Or at the least, it’s the image that foreigners have of French women, or the cliché of the French or Parisian woman. And I’m happy that woman is … me.
Q: You have never advertised anything before. Why? What made you say “yes” this time?
AT: I have always refused to appear in advertisements or to be the face of a fragrance … until now. Firstly, I wanted to establish myself as an actress, and I also wanted to be able to say "yes" with sincerity. I needed to have a real relationship with the "object" that I am supposed to promote since I am supposed to be the "face" of it. My standards are very high, so I could never be the face of a fragrance that I do not even like; I’ve turned down many offers because of that fact. I needed to have a connection and then there was this combination of Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the House of CHANEL — which I have known for so long — and this truly exceptional fragrance; I have to admit it was a tantalizing cocktail!
Q: Coco Chanel used to say: "A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future." Do you agree?
AT: For me, a woman who wears perfume represents the ultimate in femininity. Perfume is so much more than makeup or clothes; you wear perfume like a secret that you are not prepared to share with everyone; you only share it with someone you get close to, it’s like a kiss.
Q: Could you love a man who does not love your perfume?
AT: I couldn’t love a man who doesn’t love CHANEL N°5! I could only love a man who has taste because so do I … But, no, I couldn’t love a man who doesn’t love my perfume; it would be hopeless.
Q: Coco Chanel did not give this fragrance a name, but a number (No.5), which was her lucky number. Do you put any stock in numbers, signs or lucky charms?
AT: Something very strange happened to me that was purely the result of chance. The day it was announced that I was going to be the new face for CHANEL N°5 it was May 5th (5/5). I was in New York at the time and my hotel room was, coincidentally, "555." This wasn’t intentional and no one purposely booked this particular room for me, nobody knew anything about it; I found that to be very strange … I think it was something that was meant to happen to me. I can believe in signs but they have to be very big ones!
For more on the making of the Coco Chanel film and Audrey Tautou, please click here.