Sunday, November 24, 2013


For Marilyn Monroe to be the face of Chanel No. 5, as was recently announced, seems inevitable. There are two lovely photographs of her with a bottle of the perfume, and she famously replied "Chanel No. 5" when asked what she wore to bed. An ad using Marilyn's voice and image recently debuted. I don't know who created this advertisement, but Chanel should fire the ad agency and whoever approved it.
       Dior's spot featuring Marilyn (and Charlize Theron as Dietrich and Grace Kelly) is glamorous and exciting, shot in the Palace of Versailles' Hall of Mirrors and bathed in gold light. The CGI-created Marilyn wears the glittery gold dress from Gentlemen Prefer Blonds and looks gorgeous.
       That's how an ad featuring one of history's most glamorous women should look. But what do we get from Chanel? The ad opens with her name in small, blocky white letters on a deep black background. It looks like a death notice. Then we hear a scratchy recording of Peter Lawford saying her name as he introduced her before she sang "Happy Birthday" to JFK. This is followed by a tape recording of her explaining why she gave the reply she did about Chanel No. 5 ("I didn't want to say 'nude'.") This is the best part of the ad; the audio is something I've never heard before.
     But the rest of it! Just a series of brief, scratchy (again) B&W newsreel shots of her and some amateur color film shot by a fan on the streets of Manhattan in the early '50s. The images whiz by so quickly that the overall impression is a big blur. The lovely image of her dabbing some of the perfume on her bosom is used, but too briefly. The other image with the perfume bottle, in which she's lying languidly amid satin sheets, isn't used.
       Chanel ought to admit the ad's a mistake and put together a new one, colorful and glamorous, perhaps with Marilyn singing. "I Wanna Be Loved By You" from Some Like It Hot would work nicely--because isn't that why we wear perfume, after all?

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