Why Penelope Cruz is an expert in Chanel, both on and off-screen

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Why Penelope Cruz is an expert in Chanel, both on and off-screen

Since 2018, Penelope Cruz is an official ambassador for Chanel. It was the year she appeared in “The Year of Penelope Cruz”. a campaign for the Parisian maison where she was photographed by Karl Lagerfeld dressed in designs from Chanel’s cruise collection. One of her looks featured white tweed, a beret, and a cashmere knit with Chanel logo. “La Pausa”, the name of Coco Chanel’s summertime retreat by the French Riviera. 

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But the Spanish megastar’s admiration for the brand – specifically the house’s history, creations and general know-how – long predated her appointment as an official ambassador.

Cruz has worn Chanel for many years both on-screen as well as off-screen. At the 2008 Academy Awards ceremony, Cruz walked the red carpet wearing a black silk Chanel Chanel gown with feathers. It was a good luck charm since Cruz won an Oscar that year in this dress.

On screen, memorable Cruz-in-Chanel moments include her 2009 turn as Lena, the lead character in Pedro Almodóvar’s hit movie Broken Embraces. “For Broken Embraces, they sent a lot of archive pieces; there were racks full of archive Chanel,”Cruz told me this during a June interview she did with me in Florence, Italy. “I thought I was going to faint.” 

Cruz and Almodóvar, who are close and frequent collaborators, had long wanted to kit a film character out with a Chanel wardrobe. Finally, the time was right. “[Lena] was a very glamorous character. It was right for her,” Cruz explained. “Many other times we had been tempted to use more Chanel, but it had to be right for the character.”

The actor still remembers searching through racks of Chanel creations to piece together Lena’s wardrobe. “It was beautiful to see all those things and try to identify which ones were from the eighties, or later [and] to be able to wear pieces from Karl Lagerfeld’s first collection, which I think was 1983,”She spoke.

Cruz’s personal Chanel trajectory began with what she described as “a tiny pink bikini”She still has the original to this day. The bikini was followed by tailored pieces – “a white jacket and skirt that I wore to a Chanel show in 1999”. At Chanel, jackets and two-pieces count among the brand’s alphabet of emblematic designs, creations which nod to the house’s legacy and founder.

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Penelope Cruz

Today, some of these designs are realised and perfected at Le19M, the purpose-built facility on the outskirts of Paris that Chanel’s cadre of expert ateliers moved into recently. It was to visit Le19M – and see Chanel’s generations of skilled makers at work – that Cruz had travelled to Florence for when we met. 

In early June, Chanel re-staged a show of its Métiers d’art 2021/2022 collection in Florence. The collection was unveiled in Paris for the first time last winter. It is a celebration both of craft and dressmaking. 

The latest show was also seen by 240 students who are enrolled in fashion design and fashion courses at Politecnico di Milano, as well as other Italian schools. All had enjoyed a day of Chanel programing: in the morning, Cruz (and speakers including Caroline de Maigret and prolific choreographer Dimitri Chamblas) had joined Bruno Pavlovsky, the president of Chanel’s fashion activities and of Chanel Sas, on stage at the city’s Camera di Commercio for a Chanel masterclass. 

A model on the catwalk

The masterclass and subsequent discussion on topics such as innovation, sustainability, research, and innovation sparked an official partnership between Chanel University and Politecnico di Milano University.

During my interview with Cruz, the actor told me about how she used to admire the handiwork of Chanel’s many expert makers, whose skills she observed just before haute couture shows in Paris when samples were being readied. “I saw them finish details by hand,”She spoke. 

Multi-award winning star has been a long-time fan of crafting. Her grandmother taught her how she used a needle and thread when she was young. “She showed me how to sew and knit. I loved doing that with her,”Cruz said that he was wearing Chanel clothing.

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