The One That I Want is the breathtaking new Chanel No.5 commercial directed by Baz Luhrmann, which tells a story of a working mother, a lover, and a surfer. It’s an advertisement. It’s a 5-minute movie. It’s a collection of glamorous, iconic, sensual imagery full of possibility.
The piece captures the many faces of the lead lady, played by Gisele, as she surfs, sends her child off with the nanny, gets ready for work, models in a photo shoot, and ends the day by driving over the Queensboro bridge to meet her lover at a baroque opera house.
Despite the overall romantic “make believe” nature of the piece, it still manages to capture the real world mother and supermodel Gisele in her everyday work environment, allowing Lurhmann to weave in classic imagery for a brand that continues to represent fashion at its highest.
“It’s the spirit of Coco Chanel that has continued to influence the house. She was about paradoxes in character–-one minute she’d be in trousers on the beach, the next she’d be in a beautiful frock,” Luhrmann told Vogue.
Creators lauded Giesele’s ability to “convey complex emotions without dialogue,” which is integral to this narrative, a story without words. Events are communicated through images—without dialogue—floating along to Lo-Fang’s slowed-down adaptation of The One That I Want taken from the movie Grease.
“You have to do whatever it takes to create the perfect image” Luhrmann has said. For Luhrmann, this commitment to detail meant heading to Fiji where the crest of the wave breaks at a perfect C, evoking the C in Chanel’s logo. The surf team capturing these magnificent shots were cramped on small boats controlling drones that swooped down to get the unusual angles we see in the piece.
Critics were quick to complain that the surfing was not realistic. I see it more as a willful illusion: we all know Gisele is not surfing that wave, and clearly those 20ft turquoise waves are not breaking on the shore of New York, despite the fact she runs out of the surf and into a perfectly architected mid-century modern house on the beach in the Hamptons. But this play with reality lets you dip into a fantasy world full of desire.
It’s not surprising they have made an iconic ad to embody the timeless brand of Chanel No.5, but what is perhaps surprising is that the creators have stripped away words, relying only on the power of the image.