Once Upon a Time: The Singapore scoop on Chanel’s new short film

Oh that Karl Lagerfeld.

Turns out he didn’t tell the stars of his latest short film, Once Upon a Time…Deauville 1913, that they would have speaking roles.

“I thought it was going to be a silent movie,” Keira Knightley revealed leading up to the film premiere on the lawn of the Raffles Hotel in Singapore earlier today. Knightley, who plays Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel in the lyrical black and white short that depicts the opening of Chanel’s seaside shop, didn’t make it to the party. But plenty others did.

Sipping Singapore Slings and lounging on the rattan chairs: French actress Clotilde Hesme, who plays Chanel’s Aunt Adrienne, Saskia de Brauw who plays Vita Sackville-West, Jamie Bochert, who appears as society muse and patron Luisa Casati, and Stella Tennant, who plays Lady de Grey, an early Chanel fan and pal of Oscar Wilde (his play A Woman of No Importance was dedicated to her.)

Tennant, a longtime Chanel campaign girl, is used to Karl’s “on the hoof” working style. “He likes to see what the feeling is and what he can draw out of people,” she says. Even for print ads there will be a general concept, like Tennant as the wicked stepmother with two bored stepdaughers for a recent campaign.

But arriving to the vast film set, which recreates a century-old street in Deauville, to learn she would have a few lines was…well…a surprise. “This was totally new for me,” she firmly states. “I really didn’t want to speak. I was quite happy to do a walk on part in a tweed jacket. But I don’t want to be an actress. I don’t like speaking on camera. But, it’s fine. I have complete trust in Karl.