Who hasn’t dreamt of living in the world of Chanel? Well, for 18 minutes and 9 seconds, you can thanks to Karl Lagerfeld. The designer-turned-director transports us into the heart of the French fantasy via his super-chic new short film.
‘Once Upon A Time’ is beautifully shot, naturallement, in black and white (tres Chanel) and we’re given a glimpse into Gabrielle’s humble beginnings. But we can’t help thinking this was just Karl's excuse to get his gang of gorgeous gals together and play dress up. Sounds like a jolly good idea to us!
Models Lindsey Wixson and Saskia De Brauw make cameos while Stella Tennant puts in a, well, surprisingly stellar performance - Monsieur Lagerfeld reportedly gave the actors their lines just moments before shooting to give that au natural effect. But it’s Keira Knightley who provides the acting cred. As for Tallulah Harlech's star turn, we can totes see her bagging a part in Woody Allen’s next movie.
The storyline, however, is no 'Les Miserables' but we have an inkling the film's script and plot weren’t Karl’s biggest concern. Instead, it’s the costumes that take centre stage and boy oh boy, do we want one of those plume-tastic hats.
So what happens in the film? Let’s take it step by step and start from the beginning where it’s 1913 in Deauville, a seaside town in France. Gabrielle – or Coco – has just opened a new hat shop and excitedly waits for her first customer alongside her aunt Adrienne (played by Clothilde Hesme).
Who should come in first but the resplendent Jacqueline Forzane, played by Ashleigh Good. She catches Coco’s eye thanks to a string of pearls, straw boater hat, buttoned-up blouse and black cane. Yes, the Chanelegance is brewing…
Then a dashingly moustached man pulls up to the shop to plant a kiss on Coco’s impossibly pouty lips. The actor is Jake Davies and he’s playing Boy Capel, who has a very nice car. Did you catch that blink-and-you'll-miss-him Baptiste Giabiconi cameo? We knew Karl's favourite boy toy wouldn't be far away.
And who’s this sauntering through the streets? It’s Lindsey Wixson! Or rather Miss Wonderbilt (uh-huh). She skulks around the hats before dramatically deciding to buy the lot. Kerching for Coco!
Next to make a cameo is Tallulah Harlech representing the stylishly rebellious Eve Lavalliere. She happens to walk past the shop and impart some mysterious words of wisdom which leads to a pregnant pause. Ooh, this is better than an episode of 'Made In Chelsea'.
After a bit of milling around, Stella Tennant enters to prove her acting chops as Lady De Grey. The model looks terrific in a tweed jacket over a sharp white shirt accessorised with black pearls. ‘Tweed jackets are very chic on a woman,’ notes Coco *wink wink*
As if one Harlech wasn’t good enough, Karl also makes room for Tallulah’s mother. Yes, Amanda Harlech appears as ‘a lady of society’ who preens and plucks Coco’s designs in an 'Absolutley Fabulous' stylee. Oh, and that’s Saskia De Brauw popping in for a browse too. What a busy day for our leading lady!
Jamie Bochert also makes an appearance as Marquise Luisa Casati dressed in head-to-toe black, although we’re not entirely sure why…
Just hours later and the shop is filled with elegant customers while everyone who’s anyone is talking about how blooming fabulous Coco’s creations are. But the final line goes to Saskia's character, Vita Sackeville-West (honestly, we’re not making this up). ‘I wonder what it will be in 100 years,’ she asks looking wistfully at the diminutive hat shop.
Oh Karl, you are clever. Watch the film in full below...