Chanel No. 5: The Film

Audrey Tautou seduces with her gaze in the latest Chanel N°5 film, her third collaboration with director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. (Tautou starred in Jeunet’s Amélie, 2001, and A Very Long Engagement, 2004.) Set on a night train, the two-minute film is a tale of chance encounters, seduction, mystery and love that embodies the essence of the timeless, mesmerising fragrance.


How does it feel to be the face of 
Chanel N°5?

I think it all goes beyond my image and my character. I feel more like I’ve become involved in the story of the perfume and the story of filmmaking with Jean-Pierre rather than becoming the image or face of the fragrance. For me, Chanel N°5 
is a legend. 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.

Catherine Deneuve, Carole Bouquet 
and Nicole Kidman are former faces of Chanel N°5. How do you feel about belonging to such a dynasty?

It’s not bad, is it? I even wonder what I’m doing here! I don’t compare myself to those great actresses. I don’t see myself 
as part of their lineage.

You’re too modest.

No, I’m happy. It may seem pretentious, but I think I was a good choice [for the advertising film]. The fragrance is very French. While I’m not a chauvinist, there is something refined, elegant and delicate [about French women]. And no, I’m not describing myself, but it’s often what people tell me they associate with French women, or at least it’s the image that foreigners have of French women, or the cliché of the French or Parisian woman. I’m happy that woman is me.

You play Coco Chanel (1883–1971), the creator of Chanel N°5, in the feature film Coco Avant Chanel to be released this year. Did that inspire you for your role 
in the advertisement?

The feature film enabled me to 
learn a lot more about Coco Chanel. 
She was avant-garde, ahead of her era. 
When you think about her childhood [in an orphanage], no one could have imagined that her destiny would be so incredible, so huge. The fact that she created a fragrance in the 1920s that could just as easily have been created yesterday reflects the standard of excellence that applied to everything she did in her life. Coco Chanel contributed greatly to the liberation of women. 
She is not the only woman to have done so, but she was really very different from the other women of her time. The image of this fragrance is the image of the personality of its creator: unusual and exceptional. By playing Coco Chanel 
and getting to know her [character], 
I understood even more just how unique Chanel N°5 really is.

You hadn’t appeared in an advertisement before. What made you say yes to this one?

I have always refused to appear in advertisements and to be the face of 
a fragrance – until now – because, first, 
I wanted to establish myself as an actress and, second, I wanted to be able to say “yes” with sincerity. I needed to have 
a sincere and real relationship with the product if I was going to be the face of the product. I could never have been the face of a fragrance I didn’t like and 
I turned down offers for that very reason. There was also the combination of 
Jean-Pierre, the House of Chanel and its truly exceptional fragrance. I have to admit it was a tantalising cocktail.

Could you love a man who doesn’t love your perfume?

I could only love a man who has taste. 
So no, I couldn’t love a man who doesn’t love my perfume; it would be hopeless.


How did you come to direct the 
Chanel N°5 advertisement?

I believe in destiny. I was supposed to direct a feature film, when an actor changed his mind at the last minute and was replaced, which set my schedule back by four months. The day we decided to postpone shooting I received the offer to direct the Chanel N°5 advertisement.

Why did you feel that Audrey Tautou should be the face of Chanel N°5?

For an actor to take on this role where there is no dialogue, there has to be a real intensity in her eyes. I knew [Audrey] would be good. It is difficult to get across emotions and intentions through nothing but the look in people’s eyes and in a 
very short space of time. I haven’t worked on advertisements much. It’s a very different approach to making feature films. A character’s gaze has to be much stronger and more intense.

How did you bring about Audrey’s involvement in the advertisement?

The idea of Audrey came to me right away. It seemed so obvious to me that we needed a very expressive actress in very short shots, someone who could act with her eyes alone, and, God knows, I know Audrey’s eyes well. I knew she would be absolutely perfect for this so I recommended her 
to Chanel. Audrey and I were delighted to work together again.

Were you surprised to learn of Audrey’s lead role in the film Coco Avant Chanel?

If someone should play Coco Chanel, it should definitely be Audrey. I read a little about “Mademoiselle” just before making the advertisement, and if I were directing the story of Coco Chanel, I would have chosen Audrey for the lead role, too.

Debbie Wild’s fragrance inspirations

A passion for fragrance led Debbie Wild to Jo Malone. With her extensive knowledge and experience in fragrance and brand development, Debbie was part of the founding team that helped build Jo Malone into the global lifestyle brand that it is today.

What is your favourite Jo Malone fragrance?

 “I love the clean freshness of Amber & Lavender topped with the warm notes of Nutmeg & Ginger – the combination is perfect to wear every day and its special smell reminds me of home. In the evenings, I love spritzing on Pomegranate Noir. I find the scent wonderfully bold and intriguing, yet elegant too.” Debbie still remembers the thrill of receiving her first Jo Malone gift of Cologne in its beautiful packaging, which sparked her unrivalled enthusiasm for the brand.  

What is your most beloved city?

London is my favourite city in the world and I am constantly inspired by its diversity. The hectic buzz of the metropolis is perfectly balanced by its glorious parks.  I love taking my children to Regent’s Park, particularly in October for the Frieze Art Fair which showcases new artists and provides inspiration that’s very thought provoking for kids.  


Where do you go in London to seek inspiration?

The Design Centre at Chelsea Harbour is a kaleidoscope of creative inspiration.  I never miss the myriad wonders of the Chelsea Flower Show in late May because of the new design concepts and inspiring scents.  

Additionally, London’s markets are fabulous.  I love browsing at the Dover Street Market, which houses an eclectic mix of fashion and fragrance. For a truly vibrant experience, I recommend Borough Market, its crammed full of stalls selling anything from cheeses and chocolates to delicious breads, spices and flowers.

London’s interior and lifestyle stores are exemplary and, whether you browse or buy, The Conran Shop on Sloane Street, The General Trading Company at Sloane Square and Cologne & Cotton on Marylebone High Street yield multiple treasures.


Name some of your most reliable London restaurants

For glamour and fabulous Japanese food, Nobu Berkeley is divine, especially the Black Cod signature dish. Shoreditch House has both a fantastic restaurant and a great spa, the perfect combination!  Daylesford Organic’s Café at Sloane Square is a not-so-naughty pleasure incorporating fresh, organic ingredients from local farms. For a decadent afternoon tea, I would head to the embodiment of British luxury: Claridge’s. It is elegant, classic and has delicious food.


What is your favourite entertaining tip?

A well-known British party planner once told me to spray linen napkins with the Jo Malone Acqua di Limone Linen Spray just before guests arrive.  The scent does not compete with the meal and the fresh, aromatic aroma brings to mind the moment of sipping a gin and tonic on a balmy summers eve.  


Any travel essentials?

I’m a frequent traveller and never leave home without my Brora cashmere blanket. It’s incredibly soft and warm, yet very light and, though indulgent, it has become a necessity.  I also always travel with photographs of my children in a classic Smythson leather photo holder. With my photos and a Jo Malone candle I can instantly make any hotel room feel like home.