Chanel and Semiotics

Chanel is a well known, high fashion, women’s clothing and accessories brand. Not only is Chanel a symbol of wealth and class, but an icon in the fashion world today. Known for its 20’s and 30’s influences, Chanel prides itself on the strength behind its advertisements.

The type of audience that Chanel attracts is high class, wealthy, people of importance with a given eye for what looks good. The Chanel brand attracts all types of men and women of wealth but the place it always seems to hit hardest is in NYC.

The flashing lights and sky-high buildings make NYC everything that every fashion forward girl wishes to be. Women that wear Chanel in NYC are seen as the best of the best.

I remember asking my Grandmother what type of perfume she wore when I was six-years-old. Her response was, Chanel Number 5. It is moments like these that change our perceptions as young women and let us know which brands we will find most important in our lives. Advertisements also shape what we believe to be relavant, especially in the world of fashion.


I am going to be using semiotics to break down this particular Chanel advertisement. Not only is the image beautiful, but also it is full of signs and codes, which help us as women dive into the importance and “must-have” aspects of Chanel.

Semiotics was described in lecture as, “the study of how social production of meaning is constructed through a system of signs”(PowerPoint class lecture).

What we know about reading these signs is that they can be read differently. The way that I read a Victoria’s Secret ad is going to be far different from how a 15-year-old boy reads it.

Semiotics teaches us that through signs and signifiers, we can open our eyes to the general meaning behind a text.

For example, lets take a look at this Chanel advertisement staring Kira Knightly. In order to uncover the system of semiotics we must first ask ourselves, what do we see?

I see a beautiful woman in a red dress, an upscale building, beautiful flowers, and a diamond necklace. From these signs we can find the meaning of what is being signified by the text. What do we get from this particular advertisement?  The woman is obviously wealthy because of her expensive jewelry and attire. We can also gather that she is meeting someone for perhaps a date or night on the town because of the way she is dressed. Woman may also start to feel a sense of jealousy when looking at this woman (I know I do).

Semiotics allows us to break down what we see and determine its place in our own lives. From these signs Chanel seeks to create that sense of jealousy and use it to its advantage. Chanel knows that every woman wishes to be beautiful, wealthy and successful. Well if they link the signs of beauty and wealth with their products, they will have a far greater chance of getting men and women to buy their product.

So I’m sure you’re all saying… so what? What does this mean for me? Well… If we are able to read these signs and break down the codes to see the meaning behind each advertisement that enters our lives, will we be better able to judge our level of influence? Will my likelihood of buying $300 shoes lessen? Probably not… but in the end it is better to be aware. Or at least I think so.

If we are looking at the signs given to us by Chanel, are we, as women more likely to emulate the women in front of us? Will I be more likely to wear a slinky red dress in hopes of meeting the man of my dreams at a Manhattan hotspot? Maybe. So being able to examine these texts critically is key. Without the tools to look at what persuades us, we may be led astray. We may choose to do things that we may or may not even enjoy! By looking at the codes and signs given to us in a semiotic analysis, we are able to figure out the story and overall meaning behind each and every advertisement and ultimately, determine our own futures.

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