A new Karl Lagerfeld-helmed short film for Chanel, starring Keira Knightley as Mademoiselle and a cast of models as the socialites and moneyed madames who frequented her early store in Deauville, is getting great reviews from the general public. And by great, we mean not great at all.
First shown in Singapore on Thursday prior to the new resort collection, the 18-minute film that celebrates a century since the shop opened has made its way onto Chanel’s official YouTube page, exposing it to some hardcore opprobrium. A worldwide panel of armchair critics has panned the effort, blasting everything from Knightley’s acting chops to one bizarre scene of what appears to be “fat-shaming.”
At times historically accurate, at other times laughably off-base, the plot consists mostly of Coco Chanel inquiring of her snooty customers where they got the items they have on, with the clear intention of reproducing them. At times, Chanel herself comes across as bitchy, at one point rolling her eyes and saying, “I hate Poiret.”
Five minutes of credits suggest this was a major project. And yet, as a more fair-minded commenter wrote, “Karl has MANY MANY talents…directing is not one of them.”
On the bright side, plenty of models make charming cameos, both speaking and non-speaking. Among the best is a wippet-walking Jamie Bochert as the marchesa Luisa Casati. Conversely, Lindsey Wixson adopts a drunk-like swagger and an exaggerated New York accent as “Mrs. Wonderbilt.”
Knightley, who has been a brand ambassador since becoming the face of the Coco Mademoiselle fragrance in 2006, married James Righton in a Chanel couture gown last weekend. Which means she’s obliged to appear in the film and can, to some degree, be forgiven for it.