From day dot we are taught to look up to people. Those in our lives - from our parents, caregivers and teachers. But, alongside this, we’ve long been conditioned to cherish and seek moral guidance from those we have never even met before (and yet feel we understand with great intimacy, on a core personal level). Celebrities. This word, its reverence in public consciousness, has evolved over time. What does it mean to be a celebrity? How has it shaped our culture? How do you maintain such a status? What is its power? Shortfalls? Future in the age of social media? These are all questions explored in Chanel’s fascinating new video series, 'Celebrity By', to mark the 100-year anniversary of the most iconic, and best-selling, fragrances of all time, CHANEL N°5.
The six-minute short film gathers together stars from different creative industries – including actress and face of N°5 Marion Cotillard, ballet dancer Marie-Agnès Gillot, renowned Yale professor and psychologist (and host of one of our favourite podcasts 'The Happiness Lab') Laurie Santos, former editor of Vanity Fair Graydon Carter and more – to dissect the cult of celebrity today.
“What’s powerful is celebrity that exists over a long time,” Marion Cotillard says. “Because it’s based on creation, the way we share what we create, share what we are.” International dance prodigy Lil Buck, who has collaborated with Madonna and others, says the secret to stardom is feeling the fear and doing it anyway - again and again. "You gotta be driven," he notes. "You’ve got to have so much drive and your belief and drive needs to outshine any of the reasons you’re convincing yourself why you can’t do it. I didn’t stop. I kept going."
Celebrities are becoming “more ordinary people," Laurie Santos explains. "We can watch a celebrity inside their home, they’re becoming ordinary people to us. We can even communicate with them, like their posts, or tell them something in their Instagram feed." At the same time as ordinary people are "more likely to become celebrities." Anyone can become an influencer, Santos adds. "A real revolution.”
Chinese multi-media mogul and writer, dubbed the 'Oprah of China', Hung Huang gives insights on how the notion of celebrity is different in China, what influence fandom culture has on modern youth and how women can change the world. Elsewhere, legendary editor, Graydon Carter, who has been documenting stars and creating stories that have shaped pop culture for more than 30 years for Vanity Fair magazine, and now for Air Mail, travels back in time: “Right now, probably under 50 people worldwide will be remembered in 100 years”.
Though, perhaps the most powerful sentiment is drawn from French prima ballerina Marie-Agnès Gillot's intimate exploration on the weighty subject. “I have this inner strength to think everything is possible," she says. "And nothing could stop me."
You can watch the film in full here.
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