Behind the scenes picture
On-set interview with Vogue
You have been photographed by Karl Lagerfeld a number of times, but this is the first film that you have been in that was directed by him. Can you tell us about this experience? How was he as the director?
Karl is supremely natural and thoughtful, which rubs off on an actor, always . . . that confidence. His interest in cinema is clear and working with him in that way was inspiring . . . to see him in yet another shade of light, thriving . . . “Once more . . . with feeling.”
You are a Chanel ambassadress and in the film you play an actress who takes on the character of Gabrielle Chanel. How did you approach this role?
I didn’t have much of a chance to approach it until it was upon us, as we didn’t receive scripts. From the outside . . . it looked as though he was making it up as we went. And maybe he was. I took my cues from Karl in regard to the historical aspects of the piece and learned more about Gabrielle Chanel while shooting than I ever had. She is endlessly intriguing. Even more so now. The more I’ve learned the less I know, and that says a lot.
Geraldine Chaplin is also an actress who plays the role of Gabrielle Chanel. She knows the character well, having played her multiple times under Lagerfeld’s direction. What were your thoughts? Did you know her?
I was in utter awe of her ability to slip in and out of Gabrielle Chanel’s skin so seamlessly. It’s in her. The mannerisms and presence. She is such a force and such a lovely person. To say I played Coco Chanel would sound like a joke, which I suppose it was. She really owns that. I was so lucky to see it in person.
In the film you wore a Chanel dress from 1919 and another from 1938; how did you feel about wearing these?
The vintage couture pieces were jaw-dropping. I could feel the history with every step. To look through the archives is one enormous privilege, but to actually feel them . . . wear them . . . hold them . . . it’s priceless.