Penélope Cruz & Brad Pitt in new short for Chanel

The Chanel Iconic Handbag campaign, photographed and directed by Inez & Vinoodh.

“Sorry, do you have any rooms available?”

This quote comes from the film A Man and A Woman (1966), which explores one of life’s greatest emotions: falling in love.

Chanel creative director Virginie Viard has always been passionate about cinema – particularly the New Wave – and wanted to pay tribute to Claude Lelouch’s masterpiece. A work that smoulders with sensuality, with that legendary beach scene. The horizon as far as the eye can see. The eternal sea. And, of course, Deauville.

Deauville. The seaside resort where Mademoiselle Chanel opened a hat boutique bearing her name in 1912 and where she presented her first Haute Couture creations in 1913. There are no coincidences… But if they do exist, they are marvellous in terms of intuition, finesse and wisdom, because in the original film, the actress carried a Chanel handbag during those scenes where love erupts.

The Chanel Iconic Handbag campaign, photographed and directed by Inez & Vinoodh, repeats almost word for word, shot by shot, some of the film’s original sequences, with Penélope Cruz, a living legend of the film world and Chanel ambassador since 2018. And Brad Pitt, a cult actor who, with much delicacy, embodies the somewhat daunted, blushing man.

Their characters shudder, traversed by emotion, skin tingling with goosebumps. Penélope Cruz’s hand tightens on her bag, discreetly, as if to hide concern. Her fingers caress the quilted leather, we hear the sound of the clasp turning, and notice the chain over the shoulder. Instantly identifiable with its perfect silhouette, modern and rectangular, the iconic CHANEL bag and its impeccable allure that makes it so unique and desirable.

The bag we see in Claude Lelouch’s film was actually Anouk Aimée’s own bag, her favourite one, which she wore both on and off screen.

Placed on the table in a hotel restaurant, between the man and the woman, the legendary bag symbolises everything that, at some point in our lives, gives us the courage to assert our deepest desires. A unique and special moment. The bag conveys our audacity, the audacity to finally become the heroine of our own lives.

On screen, this legendary bag radiates a fragrance, a trilogy of emotions: fantasy, audacity, freedom. It’s as if there were no longer any boundaries between life and fiction.

“Do you have any rooms available?”

Who hasn’t dreamt of asking that question? For an hour, a night – or even a lifetime. It’s a question that sends shivers down the spine, that makes the heart beat faster and harder. It’s a story about desire. About freedom. That feeling of being so incredibly alive.

In the original film, it was Jean-Louis Trintignant who asked “the” question. In this spirited remake, Penélope Cruz asks the waitress, played by Rianne Van Rompaey.

The Chanel bag is an emblem. It metamorphoses according to the mood… a day bag to be worn in the evening, a faithful companion from a sleepless night to rising at dawn. It lasts a lifetime, to then be handed down from generation to generation. Collection after collection, it appears in countless variations of colour, shape and material.

Imbued with meaning, contrast and mystery, it exudes a sense of freedom. It is a coat of arms slung over the shoulder, a liberated silhouette that reveals something about the wearer. It bears within it the very history of the House of Chanel, its present, past and future, woven together like the links of its interlacing chains and leather ribbons.

It is a room unto itself, a hideaway, a place for reinventing oneself. Over the years and the Chanel collections, countless designs have paid tribute to the iconic bag, reinforcing its status as a unique icon, indeed as a legend.

A Man and A Woman by Claude Lelouch

Claude Lelouch’s A Man and A Woman was released in France in 1966 before its international distribution. Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival, the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1967 and the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, the film marked an entire generation of filmgoers and filmmakers.

It tells the story of a man and a woman, both widowed, who meet at their children’s boarding school. The film examines the outpouring of desire, the hesitations and fears of a love encounter. How and when does everything change?

Because the film’s budget was so low, the director had to shoot the film in just three weeks. To save money, he shot the interior scenes in black and white and the exterior scenes in colour.  Actress Anouk Aimée wore her own clothes and personal accessories, including her Chanel bag, which can be seen on screen.

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