It should be a revelation to exactly no one that Chanel No. 5 is one of the most storied fragrances in history. In pure perfume speak, it's widely believed to be the first that used a high concentration of "aldehydes," an innovation that gave the juice its effervescent top notes. Marilyn Monroe famously claimed to have worn it to bed. It's also the most successfully marketed scent in history: Past campaign stars have included everyone from the iconic Catherine Deneuve to Nicole Kidman and Brad Pitt.
Naming a model as its new face, then, is no small deal. But, Gisele Bündchen — already fronting the house's Les Beiges cosmetics line — has been dubbed just that. And, to fête the occasion, legendary director Baz Luhrmann cast her in a three-minute film, which will be released tomorrow.
In the feature, Gisele takes her Chanel
serfbort surfboard to the ocean and conquers what looks to be a wave from The Day After Tomorrow, all while maintaining the perfect smize. (She's a miracle, that Gisele.) After her morning surf session, she realizes that her husband (lover?) has left, so she grabs her child and heads to work on a Chanel photo shoot, as one does. You'll have to wait to see the rest for yourself, but (spoiler!) it involves a really steamy kiss with Game of Thrones star Michiel Huisman, which Luhrmann jokingly had to cut short.
This isn't the first time Luhrmann has worked with Chanel: He's directed a similar concept starring Nicole Kidman. "Nicole is a dear friend, and we've been through so much together in life and creatively, so that relationship is unique," he told me. "But, Gisele is a revelation. What I love about her is that her body is her instrument from early on, and she's learned to express so many things. She can do anything! If you say, 'Put on a wetsuit and surf,' she does it with positive energy. She has a can-do spirit... I think she will be quite surprising to people." (Maybe, maybe not: We've already admired her acting chops alongside Emily Blunt as a Runway mean girl in The Devil Wears Prada.)
Given Luhrmann's immense talent, the pure joy of watching Gisele, and the delightful soundtrack — a slower rendition of "You're the One That I Want," sung by Lo-Fang — this is clearly not just another fragrance commercial. For one thing, there's the wink to Chanel's history of opening new horizons for women. "There will be quite a bit of talk about the surfing," Luhrmann notes. "I think it symbolizes time for self in such an overwhelmingly exhausting world."
But, for Luhrmann, the most touching theme was motherhood — and he was surprised when Chanel was so receptive to it. While any allusion to family is somewhat foreign territory in fragrance ads (with the exception of Christy Turlington for Calvin Klein Eternity), it fits in gracefully here. "The child is the truth, so we balanced the aspirational and grounded it with reality... You believe that relationship [Gisele] creates with the child."
Watch a behind-the-scenes video of the campaign below, and check back tomorrow for the real thing!