French singer and actor Vanessa Paradis and Chanel go way back. With a relationship spanning over three decades, Paradis and Chanel have one of the most established relationships in the fashion world. This is why it is no surprise that Paradis turned to the French fashion house for an outfit for the closing ceremony of the 46th Deauville American Film Festival.
Paradis took the role of jury president of this year’s film festival where she chose to wear a distinctive black, silk jumpsuit from Chanel’s Fall-Winter 2020/2021 Haute Couture collection. The masterpiece required over 200 hours of work by seamstresses and features multiple elements of intricate embroidery. The flattering round necklace of the jumpsuit has a drape plastron effect that fits perfectly with the kick flare trouser style and it tied together by an embellished belt. Paradis embodies the Chanel character and style, ever since she first became the face of the Coco de Chanel perfume in 1991 in the advertisement directed by Jean-Paul Goude; so much so that creative director Virginie Viard envisioned Paradis in the jumpsuit as soon as she saw the finished design. “From the first fitting on the model, I instantly said to myself, ‘That is Vanessa!’. I could see her body moving in it. Haute Couture isn’t easy to wear, but Vanessa does it wonderfully,” Viard said.
On choosing to wear the stunning creation and her role in the Deauville American Film Festival, here is what Paradis had to say…
What did being Jury President of the Deauville Festival represents, especially this year as it is one of the only major film festivals taking place?
I was very proud and in awe. I really like this festival because it celebrates independent cinema, which I’m drawn to as much as an actress as a movie-goer. It deals with subjects that really force you out of your reality. It’s film making that wows you not with its visual effects but with its ideas and savoir-faire. There is something very powerfully human and artistic happening on the set. It’s an incredibly enriching experience. When filming is over, you feel like you know how to do your job better, how to be a better actor.
As an ambassador of Chanel for so many years, was it obvious that you should wear Haute Couture for an event like the Deauville Festival?
It was the perfect opportunity! You need an exceptional event to wear Haute Couture. And this was definitely the case, not only because it’s a very prestigious festival but also because it’s one of the few that actually happened in this very unusual year. Wearing an Haute Couture outfit, making people dream and dreaming myself, it really was obvious.
Would you say it requires a certain level of expertise to wear Haute Couture? And has your close relationship with Chanel allowed you to acquire this skill?
I believe that you have to love and respect Haute Couture in order to wear it. When I put on an Haute Couture garment, I instantly think of the hundreds of hours it took several people to make one single outfit. It’s so meticulous, delicate… I’m not saying that we don’t respect clothes from other collections, but these pieces are like wearable works of art, and it’s so impressive that you can’t help but pay more attention. In an Haute Couture outfit, fashion and craftsmanship come together, and our allure instantly improves. I don’t know if I’m an ‘expert’ but I’m still just as in awe.
Is Haute Couture like a movie costume for you?
Yes in some ways. Haute Couture regroups several arts at once: it makes us think of opera, theatre, but also concerts, even if we have the impression that those things as more rock, more pop, Haute Couture can be that too. It’s very much the case with the last collection in fact. Haute Couture outfits are like stars themselves, we look at them with so much emotion, admiration, and feelings. Haute Couture is so spectacular, so cinematic, so scenographic… It steals the limelight like no other collection.
Why did you choose this very modern Haute Couture jumpsuit from the Fall-Winter 2020/21 collection?
This outfit is extraordinary because there’s so much going on. It has character. With its tails, it makes me think of a pianist as they sit down on their stool. The trousers have a flare that instantly made me think of David Bowie, who only ever wore extraordinary stage outfits. It’s like a tuxedo and a very feminine dress at the same time, it’s modest but also revealing with its bareback… I feel like I’ve never seen an outfit like this before. I think it’s extremely original and multi-gender. It’s made for women, for men, it’s really reflective of our era. Our era at a very chic party (laughs).
Did your role as Jury President influence this choice?
I asked myself that very question: if I’d just been a member of the jury, would I have chosen this outfit? And actually, the answer is yes because I don’t think it’s over the top. There is something very spectacular in the shape, in the details, and yet at the same time, it has the understated classicism of this black fabric with its perfect drop.
You’ve known and worked with Virginie Viard for a long time, what do you like about her work, and what has she brought to the house since becoming artistic director?
Even though Karl always created for all women, for all generations, and we all dreamt of wearing his designs, I remember seeing Virginie’s first collection and feeling that here was a woman dressing women and who enjoyed doing so. Perhaps in the choice of fabrics, there are things that Chanel might not have dared before. I remember a bright yellow and black dress, in particular, it was something so new. Obviously, there’s still the House of Chanel codes, but now there’s something more that makes it very anchored in the here and now and that resonates with a wider audience. The energy and the attitude of the girls is cool and fresh, just like Virginie.
You support the work done by the maisons d’art and the couturiers. Can you tell us about the Haute Couture savoir-faire?
I’m in deep admiration of their work, their savoir-faire, their concentration, their perfectionism, and the respect they have for the designer, as well as the person who will ultimately wear the garment. They talk about the pieces they are working on as something very important, they are truly passionate, artisans in the real sense of the word. I absolutely love Loïc Prigent’s film Signé Chanel, which came out in 2005. It makes you fall in love with the whole team. People who watch the Haute Couture shows, or who go to a concert aren’t always aware of the work that’s gone into it. In the Haute Couture ateliers, there is so much delicacy, but also a lot of frank talking! The seamstresses are funny, real, and extremely talented. I was very moved when I went to the ateliers and met the ladies who’d made my outfit.
What is your favorite recollection of Haute Couture?
The first time I ever wore it for an evening. It was at the Oscars in 2004, a white dress with silver sequins and several layers of ruffles. That dress was so marvelous, I’d been to the show a few weeks before and chosen it then. It was so chic to wear a Chanel dress designed by Karl Lagerfeld to the Oscars, which is a like a fashion show of dresses each one more spectacular than the next – sometimes too spectacular in fact. But this one was so chic, so delicate, so French. I was very proud and very touched.
What is your most memorable Haute Couture look that you have worn?
A short dress, made up of pearl necklaces, from the Lion collection (look 26 of Fall-Winter 2010/11). It was really amazing, and I was wearing it for a photoshoot with Karl at the Petit Trianon in Versailles. He asked me to climb up on a statue in this dress that was like an actual piece of jewelry, it was completely mad.