Alice Dellal in Hong Kong (all images courtesy of Chanel)
I have to confess that I didn’t know much about Alice Dellal before I met her except that she was a rock chick, “it” girl and the star of Chanel’s advertising campaign for their achingly hip Boy bag.
When it was announced that Alice was chosen to star in the campaign last year I was quite surprised. She’s not exactly the type of woman you would associate with Chanel – she has a punky undercut, plays in an edgy rock band and definitely has more tattoos than Chanel bags! But somehow it works. Much like Coco, she is confident and has a fearless sense of style that is uniquely her own.
Alice flew down to Hong Kong last week for the launch of the brand’s Numeros Prive exhibition, which was being unveiled in Asia for the first time. Numeros Prive can best be described as an artistic tribute to Chanel and its iconic codes. Held in the historic Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences, the exhibition spanned ten spaces, each one showcasing Madame’s favourite materials, numbers, symbols, colours and coveted objects.
Highlights from Numeros Prive
Highlights included a laboratory-like room devoted to Chanel No.5 (dominated by a giant No.5 bottle of course!) and the Haute Couture room which was a reconstruction of Gabrielle Chanel’s apartment in Paris, with its Coromandel screens and reflecting mirrors.
We managed to catch Alice before the opening to chat about her collaboration with Chanel and get to know her better. It was probably one of the most fun interviews I have ever had – she was polite, charming and also very cheeky (she surprised the journalists in the room by snapping pictures of us before the interview). Read on to find out more.
So how did you start working with Chanel?
To be honest I didn’t own much Chanel before this but it’s the first brand I ever knew the logo of. I remember going to a Chanel shop with my whole family when I was about 15 or 16 and we all left with something. That’s a rarity. I don’t read fashion magazines but when I think about Chanel I think of old fashioned photographs. I love learning more about it and how notorious it is.
The Little Black Jacket project was the first time I met Karl. We got along well so afterwards they asked me to do the Boy campaign. I didn’t have to even think about it! Compared to all the other brands I worked with, they really have it together.
How has this experience changed you?
It has made me more aware of how the fashion industry works, in a good way. It has also shown me parts of the industry that are not cool, although fortunately that’s not got anything to do with Chanel.
How would you describe your personal style?
I am influenced by everything including music, films, places, countries, people I am surrounded by especially my family and memories. I know I like something as soon as I see it. I like to be inspired. I also like to change my look – it progresses.
I’ve had shoots where they have based it on my personal style and it’s completely off. You’d think I’d love something that had loads of studs on it but I’d like it more if I had put the studs on it myself. I love it when something is DIY and you made it yourself. For me I am not attracted to something that you’d see in a magazine that looks perfect. I think that’s what personal style is – when you put your personal input in it, it’s about your personal involvement.
Look at my boots – I bought them brand new but now I’ve lived in them, they’ve seen the world and that’s what I like. I like things that have been handed down, that have history and meaning. Chanel is a lot like that.
Do you ever read your interviews?
I find it hard to talk out what I’m thinking at times especially when I talk about fashion. When I read interviews with other people I am like ‘Surely they didn’t say that!” People get misquoted and stuff gets twisted, but I am not the first person who is going read any of my interviews! I’m rather keep it that way, otherwise my head would go crazy.
If Chanel was a genre of music what would it be?
It would definitely be very experimental. It would be Electronic because Karl loves Electronic. Electronic with a bit of Charleston.
Would you say that this experience has made you more of a fashion person?
Nope. Not then and not now. I’d like to design clothes one day but they wouldn’t be fashiony but more creative. I can’t tell you what they would look like…
What do you think of Karl?
It’s always an exciting day working with Karl. He is one of the most intriguing people I have met. He speaks very fast and has lived a lot and seen so much. How can it not be a new learning experience? I always leave with a motto or some kind of quote.
This campaign has exposed you to an international audience. Do you find this intimidating?
Very much so. But the way I live, apart from doing things like this, is quite low key. You have to take it with a grain of salt – I see it as visiting a country, seeing new things and that’s that. People get affected and become celebrities when they put themselves out there like that. That’s not me.
Would you be open to doing more fashion collaborations?
Events are the thing I least enjoy. I’m not going to go to an event for no reason. I do get a bit shy – I like being involved without having to be involved. I don’t understand when people write about my family or me saying that I am an “it” girl. Why is it so important? I said to Dad once, ‘Wow, are we that rich?” Saying that, I wouldn’t give up Chanel for anything. I’ve been to Moscow, and Tokyo, and met all these personalities.
What is one item in your wardrobe you cannot live without?
I love my purple velvet Boy bag. I also have a trolley bag for travelling that I love. I would carry it all the time if I could.