Karl Lagerfeld directing a Chanel-favorite actress as Coco Chanel in a short film — sounds like déjà vu, right? It should, since the designer has done so several times over the years. His latest iteration will involve Kristen Stewart, who’s set to star in a brief film that will debut in December at the house’s Métiers d'arts show in Rome. The plot sounds super-meta: It's a fictional look at a not-yet-made biopic about Coco Chanel, with Stewart playing the actress playing Coco Chanel. Still following? So, the actress isn’t technically playing the legendary designer.
As for Lagerfeld’s various other castings of the brand's namesake designer, Geraldine Chaplin has played the Chanel founder in a few of his shorts: The daughter of Charlie Chaplin played Chanel circa 1953, when she had an industry comeback, in the 24-minute flick The Return, released in December 2013. Chaplin reprised the role this past December in a much shorter spot, clocking in at seven-and-a half-minutes, called Reincarnation, which also starred Cara Delevingne and Pharrell.
In May 2013, Lagerfeld directed Keira Knightley as Coco in a 15-minute, black-and-white flick called Once Upon A Time…, set in 1913 at Chanel’s first boutique in Deauville. It also starred Lindsey Wixson, Stella Tennant, and Tullulah Harlech. Lagerfeld only gave the cast their lines minutes before filming and encouraged improv, which sort of explains the awkward stiltedness of the dialogue, though the Chanel wardrobing is pretty sweet.
Of course, there have been other well-regarded, non-Lagerfeld-directed depictions of the icon, like Audrey Tautou in the 2009 French flick Coco Before Chanel, and some major misses, like Shirley MacLaine in Lifetime’s 2008 Coco Chanel (though it was a Lifetime flick, so…). One thing we’re pretty sure of is Stewart’s turn as an actress playing Coco Chanel will likely involve a whole lot of scowling.