In the latest Miss Dior campaign, shot by Anton Corbjin, Natalie Portman plays a not-quite-blushing bride.
Most little girls plan their wedding days and dream about puffy dresses, snow white cakes and of course, the perfect spouse. The latest Miss Dior campaign, however, has got us dreaming up how to make the most dramatic exit from that day, because, well, if leaving your dearly beloved at the altar is good enough for Natalie Portman, it’s good enough for us. Not quite sure where we’re going to get the getaway helicopter from though.
Anton Corbjin who shot this French Riviera almost-fairytale tells us a little about the making of the film.
Can we talk about the story? She flees her wedding, but you could almost interpret the story in an Oedipal way, by saying that she’s leaving her father!
(Laughs) Yes, but not just her father, if you ask me. The story is about escaping, about getting away from all the things that tie you down in life. Escaping everything you can’t accept any more. In this vein, I think it’s fantastic to be using Janis Joplin’s song, Piece of my Heart. It’s essential to have that voice and those lyrics, to add a female perspective to my film.
Janis Joplin is indeed a fabulous choice. You’re very fond of her as an artist: you even shot a self-portrait of yourself dressed as Janis…
(Laughs) Yes, that’s right. That’s the closest I have ever been to Janis!
Is this idea of freedom, which is profoundly linked to Janis Joplin, important in your film? In the sense that Miss Dior is a perfume that symbolised Christian Dior’s desire to make women happy again after the war?
It took a long time to find the music and this choice seemed to fit perfectly from all angles, including the song’s meaning. But we didn’t set out to shoot the video to fit with a particular music. It’s not like a music video, which illustrates a track. We made Miss Dior like a movie, meaning that we didn’t choose the music that fits the images until the shooting was finished. The more I look at the Miss Dior film, the more I know we got the best track possible.
The choice between colour and black and white is always relevant in your visuals. For Miss Dior you decided to mix the two. Would you say the black and white refers to reality and the colour to escaping and dreaming?
Yes. But it’s open to interpretation! It’s rare becausecolour is supposed to represent reality, but for me black and white is my reality. I don’t work with digital, so I needed to choose before the shoot. When I do shoot in colour I’m always curious what it will look like. For black and white I know what result I will get… It’s like second nature to me.
Nature is incredible in the Miss Dior film. When Natalie Portman is running it looks like she’s on a green carpet!
Yes, and I think nature is easier for me to capture in film than in stills. Especially in black and white, which is particularly difficult. There are artists who manage to do beautiful things, such as Sebastião Salgado, the Brazilian photographer, who I think is a master of still lifes in black and white. His landscapes are grandiose. I find nature difficult to photograph because you can get lost in it. But in film, where movement is implied, nature is always clear.
Do you feel Miss Dior embodies a new feminism? Like some of today’s pop stars, such as Beyonce or Nikki Minaj, who say that they are new feminists?
Yes it’s interesting to see that these women are kind of worshiped by men, projecting what men want to see, and yet they say they are feminists. It’s hard to say. For me it’s still coming from a man’s perspective. The great thing about Janis Joplin, for instance, is that the female perspective prevails. In any event, it’s good that the “feminist” debate is back. A few years ago, I portrayed stripper girls with the South African painter Marlène Dumas. I worked in collaboration with her on paintings she had done with strippers in Amsterdam. I included 4-letter words, usually suggesting something sexual (FUCK etc.). But I replaced them with 4-letter words that I thought these women might think of: HOME, BABY, etc…
To finish on Miss Dior, let’s go back to her creator, Christian Dior. He was friendly and gentle, a man who was full of life but also questions. This perfume was inspired by his sister Catherine, who fought with the Resistance and survived deportation. When Christian Dior said he wanted to make women happy, he meant it. “Happiness” was not a hollow word for him.
I didn’t know that. It makes it even better. I think that happiness is an overused word, an exaggerated state of mind… Sometimes it means that people don’t have to worry about things. For me it’s quite the opposite. It’s a state of mind that I go towards while hoping deep down that I will never really get there…
Photographer: Anton Corbjin for Christian Dior Parfums