Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire

Chanel makes some of the most stunning commercials for perfume.
Some of them are revered and well known to a greater or lesser degree, most of which we have already discussed here on the Shrine. Some are rather strange and compelling in their weirdness, some are unexpected modern little gems.
However I recently came across three truly exceptional and rare Chanel commercials and I want to share them with you on these pages, one by one. They are different, witty, visually and conceptually imaginative and they pose their own train of thought.

From 1982 with the infamous shadow of an airplane gliding up the Transamerica building in San Francisco comes the first one for Chanel No.5. That image must have made quite an impression in its day, long prior to days of terror, prompting Chandler Burr to reference it in his review of Rose Barbare: "sweeps over you like the silent, massive shadow of an Airbus A340, a tactile component that makes you narrow your eyes".
This Chanel No.5 commercial, taking its message one surreal step further than the 1979 Ridley Scott predecessor, is set to a cover of The Ink Spots hit "I don't want to set the world on fire" in a half minute that urges us to think out of the box.

Charles and Catherine share the fantasy of one of the greatest commercials ever made. From the merging master editing which takes the scheme of a French garden to fall on the black and white keys of a piano, them in turn giving way to the straight lines of train tracks and to urban skyscrapers' windows, it uses that wonderful perspective which makes the eye travel deeper and further into the background; prompting us to seek beneath the obvious, beneath the visual restrictions of reality into the unchartered vistas of the imagination and the power of olfaction that makes us dream.
And which question could be more personal than what is your perfume!
In my heart I have but one desire...

Clip originally uploaded by louisadeck on youtube


  1. What a great discovery! You made my day, this is so classy! Wish more commercials were so elegantly made these days.
    I recall one in which a woman fell in love with a statue, that was my favorite, remember it?

  2. Thanks for the fun post! I do love the Chanel ads, even that twisted one with the women in holding tanks, or whatever the heck they are ;-)

    I just wish I loved all the scents as much ...

  3. You're welcome Sue.
    I believe the one you describe was Roma by Biagotti. I remember it well. Will see if I can find it :-)

  4. Glad you liked them, M.
    That one with the tanks is a bit like Alien and Das Parfum too, isn't it?
    The other two I found are just as fun.

  5. Anonymous11:34

    Wow, super cool!! What a catch!


  6. Isn't it? I was so happy to find it.

  7. Anonymous04:11

    Hi. I'm from Panama. Thanks for the commercial, cause I was searching it and finally I have it. Believe me or not, this commercial has a special meaning for me.

  8. Anon,

    perish the thought that I would not believe you in saying so. I do feel what you say. Perfume commercials have a very powerful pull on us and this one is particularly memorable!

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  9. Victoria22:38

    When I first saw this commercial I was 23 years old then .
    I loved the commercial & the music.
    I had no idea who sang it then and because there was no internet after a few times I never saw it again.
    I am now 52 & have a sweet memory of that past , long ago.
    Thanks for 'posting the past'.

  10. Victoria,

    you're most welcome. So happy I brought back happy memories!


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