Ashley Kryscynski English 125.046 Laura Ambrose Sunday, February 17, 2008 Class Sells “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” This short and simple statement has always been Coco Chanel’s idea of what the quintessential woman should be. Chanel advertisements have always presented “Chanel women” as strong and independent. The words “classy and fabulous” have shaped Chanel into a fashion superpower not by focusing on women as vulnerable objects for men, but rather by applauding their strength and independence. Chanel portrays women as desirable for both sexes, but unlike a majority of ads focused on women, Chanel women break the stereotypical “homemaker mold” and continue to always be both classy and fabulous. Both Suzanne Romaine and Susan Bordo remind readers that sex sells. Numerous advertisements have used women’s bodies not only for their sex appeal but also because they are desirable to both men and women alike. One of the most popular and effective marketing strategies sells sexuality to consumers. Chanel advertisements on the other hand, sell classiness. Nicole Kidman represents the original Chanel perfume, No. 5. As an established actress, Nicole lends herself as a perfect symbol for a timeless perfume. Her advertisements embody the epitome of “classic sophistication.” Each has proven to withstand the test of time. In one of her advertisements, she wears a classic black dress with a diamond pendant with “No. 5” elegantly hanging from her back. The classic black dress and draping pendent portrays Chanel as a high class, expensive company. The metaphor used here suggests that Chanel women are not cheap, but part of an upper class society (Romaine 259). In addition to a classic look, her other advertisement for No. 5 exhibits her in a pink dress with pink feathers. The pink theme and diamond earrings radiate femininity. Chanel uses this femininity in both advertisements to allure men to illustrious Chanel women such as Nicole. For men, Nicole creates a desirable Chanel woman. She has been admired by numerous men throughout her career. The pendant hanging down takes sex appeal to a more sophisticated level than advertisements with scantily clad women. Chanel women have earned a higher level of respect through their choice of using Chanel and therefore adopting Coco’s notions of what a woman should be: classy and fabulous. Unlike women who are represented as object for men, Nicole portrays herself as a woman who has the world in her hands by the expression on her face. It tells the consumers that Chanel women hold an air of elegance about them that brings all eyes on them. Her black dress and the pendent combine sexiness with classiness. Her pink outfit accented with fluffy feathers likewise illustrates how “fabulous” Nicole can be as well. Perhaps her high class status even provides men a sense that Chanel women are a rare treasure and once found, should be cherished. For women however, Nicole embodies a woman of class. – something every woman should aspire to be in life. The No. 5 advertisements provide perfect examples of a company attempting to appeal to women’s material desires. Nicole Kidman symbolizes the epitome of sophistication, class, and elegance. As Suzanne Romaine states, “advertisers want us to attach the desired identity to a specific commodity so that our longing for a particular identity is transformed into a need for a product” (256). Chanel wants women to desire to be like Nicole Kidman – for her looks, her class, and her sexiness. Each advertisement serves as Chanel’s idea of the perfect “classy and fabulous” figure that every woman should strive to be. As an actress who identifies with both younger and older generations, No. 5 similarly has the appeal to women of all ages. For women looking to stray away from the seriousness of No. 5, Chanel offers its fragrance “Chance.” In both Chance advertisements, Chanel chooses to stay away from the stereotypical housewife portrait. Instead of emphasizing “the traditional view that women’s place is in the home,” these advertisements show carefree women who are having fun (Romaine 253). The name “Chance” suggests to women to take a chance and have fun. It tells them to leave the house and lead an exciting, carefree life – even if only for a night. The advertisement focusing on the woman with the man next to her suggests that Chanel Chance will make women more desirable to men when they wear the perfume. Through women’s eyes, the advertisements depict exciting and happy women – the kind of excitement and happiness that possibly only Chanel Chance can bring. To men, the advertisement portrays lively, energetic women who could fulfill their sexual fantasies. Perhaps what makes Chanel Chance so successful is that it makes women feel young and flirty again, in addition to drawing them away from both their professional jobs and stereotypical roles in the home. Chanel argues to women that Chance is the perfect perfume for celebrating energy and youth. It bridges the gap between young and old. Based on its advertisements, Chance brings happiness, excitement, and fun to its consumers. Chance women pictured as the essence of “fabulous.” The advertisement featuring both sexes shows that both the woman and man are pleased. Both the woman and man’s faces portray expressions of happiness which allows readers to assume that everything pictured is wanted. It whisks readers away from the monotony of the home and work and implants the idea that Chanel Chance has the ability to bring both men and women happiness. For men, it portrays Chance women as a multitude of characteristics: flirty, fresh, exotic, sexy, playful. It focuses on their desire to bring exciting and energetic women into their lives. In a sense, it encourages men to also “take a chance” with Chanel’s most lively, thrilling women. Catering to a younger generation, Chanel Mademoiselle is not intended for the older, “classic” crowd that has already withstood the test of time. Young British actress Keira Knightly acts as the new face of Chanel Mademoiselle. Unlike the established Nicole Kidman, Keira draws in the younger generation of Chanel consumers – men and women alike. Although at first glance, Keira’s naked body leaves readers wondering if Chanel has been swept away by the notion that sex really does sell, the way she presents herself tells the reader that Chanel’s concept of young sophistication and class has changed. Keira’s hunched body may portray her in a vulnerable position, but she does not stick her chest out, giving men more of a reason to believe that she is there merely for their pleasure. Her face in each advertisement exudes an inner strength and independence, words that many young women identify themselves as. Meanwhile, Keira acts as a symbol of the perfect young Chanel woman for young men by being both classy and fabulous. Although a fresh face focusing on a completely different audience than No. 5, Keira’s advertisements continue to symbolize Coco Chanel’s dedication to being “classy and fabulous.” Numerous advertisements streaming popular culture feature naked women who are far from Chanel’s notion of “classy.” Chanel Mademoiselle serves as a reminder to the young and old alike that classiness has not disappeared. For the No. 5 patrons, an advertisement featuring Nicole Kidman’s naked body would provide quite the shock to the more conservative crowd. However, Keira’s naked body can be presented to the younger, generally more liberal crowd. She is not portrayed as a weak, vulnerable, or sexualized object merely for men, like a majority of advertisements containing naked or scantily clad women. The bowler hat and white men’s shirt covering her body, along with the decadent necklace, all imply classiness and sophistication. Although at first glance, her body sits in a position that could possibly be considered to be a “weak” pose, the expression on her face radiates an inner strength and independence that so many young women relate to. The choice of Keira Knightly as the face of Chanel Mademoiselle relates her to Coco Chanel herself. Young, exciting, and feminine, Coco’s characteristics are evident in Keira. Her naked body portrays Keira’s young, wild nature. Her free-spirit is unmistakable in both advertisements by her body language and the text. As Coco Chanel herself proclaimed, “Elegance is not the prerogative of those who have just escaped from adolescence, but of those who have already taken possession of their future.” The men’s shirt and classic bowler hat displayed with her in these advertisements hint that she is ready to represent the classic Chanel look. On the other hand, the same shirt and bowler hat that are used to cover present the reader a “mademoiselle” who one assumes had a wild night out. (In French, the word “mademoiselle” signifies a young woman.) The font used to form the words “Coco Mademoiselle” reveals an exciting, secretly untamed side to the classiness that Chanel generally embodies. Meanwhile, the bold font used to form the name “CHANEL” in the corner reminds readers that the company has withstood the test of time and is ready for Keira’s fresh face to symbolize their perfume. A perfect mix of characteristics of the young and wild and the classic and sophisticated appeal to both young men and women alike. Keira as the new face of Coco Mademoiselle presents a perfect representation of key characteristics in Chanel women. The evident theme throughout Chanel’s advertisements is that sleazy representations of women are unnecessary tactics in gender advertising. Chanel women have always been portrayed as “classy and fabulous” and will always continue to be portrayed as such. Unlike the 1980 Calvin Klein ad featuring Brooke Shields with the quote, “You know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing,” Chanel chooses to stay above unnecessary sexual innuendos. Chanel women should always strive to embody feminine characteristics that set women apart from men. A perfect Chanel woman should be desired by men as well as admired by her fellow women, regardless of what “classy and fabulous” are considered by popular culture. The Chanel advertisements show audiences that although ideas of being classy and fabulous change through history, the company will always focus on these two ideas set by founder Coco Chanel. Geared towards the “baby boomer” generation who were taught exactly what being classy and fabulous is by Coco herself, No. 5 advertisements never stray away from the idea of just how sexy high class sophistication and elegance is. On the other hand, Chanel Chance has the ability to focus its attention on women and men of all ages. Chance does not need to use over-sexualized advertising techniques in order for its worldly audience to relate to. The lively, carefree nature of the perfume represents characteristics that all women long to be. It is in the Coco Mademoiselle line that specifically targets a younger generation’s new notion of Chanel ideals. By characterizing Chanel’s history of high class and sophistication in youthful Keira Knightly, a younger crowd can now connect to Chanel’s enduring principles. Unlike a majority of advertisements selling consumers the idea that women’s bodies are merely for men’s desires, Chanel reminds the world that women and their bodies should be regarded with respect. Chanel women are the epitome of class, sophistication, and independence – the archetypal women. Even the perfume they wear can represent these ideals, which is why Chanel chooses women such as Nicole Kidman and Keira Knightly. These women have broken stereotypes by the way they present themselves in Chanel’s advertisements. Chanel’s movement to portray women as classy, fabulous figures has been more than evident throughout the company’s history and will continue to be their goal for years to come.
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