Chanel and Lily Allen : a modern Cinderella ?

We all know the famous interpret of the song F*** You, the pop star Lily Allen. The English singer who is never at a loss for words is more known for her escapades involving drug and alcohol than her grace and her style.

credit to Charles Newbury - Festival hall Melbourne

credit to Charles Newbury 

But in 2009, Chanel surprisingly chose her to be the new face of the handbag’s campaign “coco cocoon”. This choice was pushed by the Chanel designer Karl Lagarfeld who succumbed to the charm of the singer.

In my last article I talked about the importance of celebrity endorsement in luxury industry. I especially underlined the need of coherence between the choice of the celebrity and the brand’s values. In this case, we can question Karl Lagarfeld’s decision regarding Lily Allen as Chanel’s spokesmodel. Indeed, the Lily Allen’s image, sometimes associated with trash celebrity, doesn’t seem in agreement with Chanel values that defend class, elegance and glamour. The risk here is that customers don’t understand this choice and might turn away from the brand. So why a prestigious brand like Chanel made such a selection?

First, there is clearly an aspirational purpose behind it, revealing the brand’s strategy. Chanel makes you beautiful and turns you into a princess (or almost). Like Cinderella’s Godmother, Karl Lagarfeld took Lily Allen and her dubious style and turned her into a beautiful and classy model.

Second reason of such a decision is Lagarfeld innovative vision. Indeed the creative director of Chanel is famous for his irreverent taste. He very often has been the first to anoint the next It band, actor or model. So it is not so surprising that he chose Lily Allen to be the face of Coco Cocoon’s new line.  Moreover, Lily Allen is reputed to be a fashion addict, especially when it concerns Chanel’s bag (she declared to have more than 30), meaning that it is in a sense coherent with her. Finally, Lagarfeld is conscious of her celebrity toward a large public. Maybe his goal was also to attract new customer that are not use to luxury.

And it is true when you look at the Chanel’s ads, Lily Allen looks absolutely stunning. With her handbag, her classical black skirt and her tiara, Lily Allen’s image in the ad totally blows the one we know from the artist we firstly discover with her song “Smile”. Lily’s princess punk vibe shines through with the help of funky accessories and styling. The bags are definitely puffy, different from Chanel’s per usual sleek options, but they are different and fun, just like Lily!

Coco cocoon advertising campaign. credit to Courtner Webster

Coco cocoon advertising campaign. credit to Courtner Webster

Unfortunately, the fairytale didn’t last too long. Indeed, in 2010, Karl Lagardfeld organized a party during Cannes’Festival, but Lily Allen didn’t get any invitation. The message was clear: you do not belong anymore to Chanel’s Family. The reason of this turnaround? Magazines reported that during a previous event ( organized by Lagarfeld too), Lily turned out to finish unreasonably drunk. Too much of a party girl that Chanel can stand.

Consequences? The company decide not to renew Lily Allen’s contract. Instead it replaced her by the smoother Vanessa Paradis.

The moral of the story : Like Cinderella’s dress that turns back to rags at midnight, Lily Allen enjoyed the ball but for an extra glass of champagne Godfather Lagarfeld decided to break the spell.

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