When Brad Pitt, Pharrell Williams and the late Gaspard Ulliel worked with Chanel as face of the brand, they offered a more stereotypical idea of masculinity—whether it was Pitt's six-pack abs, Williams' punk rock edge or Gaspard's classic.
Cut to the present. The choice of Timothée Chalamet as the new face of Bleu de Chanel, a men's fragrance, speaks about the changing men's beauty ideals. With his curly hair, boyish charm, kind eyes and off-kilter red carpet picks—from rocking a Louis Vuitton bib to owning a backless ensemble by Haider Ackermann—Chalamet offers a more diverse approach to men's dressing.
Arnav Malhotra, the founder of No Grey Area, says traditionally, the representation of masculinity in advertisements has often adhered to a narrow and stereotypical definition, focusing on ruggedness, power, and traditional ideals of manhood. “However, the decision to feature Timothée Chalamet, known for his androgynous and fashion-forward style, signifies a shift towards a more inclusive and diverse understanding of masculinity.”
He adds: "Chalamet's presence challenges conventional norms and embraces a more nuanced and fluid concept of gender identity and expression. By featuring a versatile and progressive actor like him, Chanel is breaking away from the traditional binary representations and embracing a more inclusive and open-minded approach to masculinity."
This shift in approach also reflects the growing acceptance and celebration of diverse expressions of masculinity. “It encourages individuals to express themselves authentically and without limitations, irrespective of societal expectations. By associating with Timothée, Chanel is not only staying relevant but also attracting a new generation of consumers who value individuality, self-expression, and a more nuanced understanding of gender. This move opens up conversations about breaking stereotypes and encourages the exploration of personal style without boundaries,” says Malhotra.
Pearl Uppal, creative director and founder of Talking Threads, says Chanel’s statement on Bleu de Chanel —“a fragrance for the man who is deeply himself"—says it all. "We are speedily embracing a time where self-expression and unapologetically authentic style overrides a gendered world and stereotypes. It’s embracing a nuanced masculinity, which is much more complicated, and much cooler. It congratulates men with a vision beyond their times, men who inspire us as much with their audacious style, as with their understated compelling confidence," says Uppal.
Designer Jayesh Shah points out that Chalamet's personal style, characterised by its daring and adventurous nature, serves as a powerful representation of the changing times we live in. "It reflects a departure from the constraints of traditional masculine fashion and a celebration of individuality, self-expression, and the breaking of boundaries. His affinity for unique garments and unconventional fashion choices resonates with a generation that values authenticity, personal freedom, and the ability to explore diverse expressions of identity," says Shah.