A notoriously difficult genre to get right, the perfume commercial threatens to descend into cringe-worthy farce. With everything riding on the pre-Christmas market, the parfum wing of major fashion companies traditionally opt for bankable stills photographers to film their adverts, many of whom having little or no experience of the motion-image field. Freed at last from the obvious constraints of the single shot, the stills photographer's classic pitfall is to ignore the limitations of this sixty second medium. Any attempt at a narrative structure-which, of course, requires greater length-is doomed to abject failure.
This is why recent key commissions have been so shrewd. With experienced filmmakers such as Baz Luhrmann, Jean-Baptiste Mondino and Nick Knight directing the Chanel No. 5, Poison and J'Adore adverts respectively, a rich and competitive creative climate has been established, shifting the genre away from cliché and towards new formations of contemporary elegance.
This fashion film was first shown in November 2004 as an exclusive preview of the 45-second cinema cut of the Christian Dior J'Adore campaign, directed by Nick Knight and starring Charlize Theron. Drawing on classic models of feminine beauty from mannerist Madonnas to Marilyn, this simple beauty shot brought to life suggests a modern resolution to possibly the most problematic challenge in fashion image-making: motion image.