July 10, 2023   David   Gallery Update, Photoshoots

The Chanel Couture show FROW star and actor spoke exclusively to ELLE about her relationship with Chanel, finding her style, and her new series, Wilderness.

Chanel’s show is always a highlight of the bi-annual Paris Couture Week calendar, but this year’s felt particularly poignant. For in among the chaos that has engulfed the French capital over the past week, Virginie Viard’s new collection provided a reminder of the city at its most idyllic.


With the Eiffel Tower providing a postcard-perfect backdrop, models made their way along the cobbled quayside of the Seine in Parisienne­-inspired frothy organza dresses, tweed co-ords and intricately floral-embroidered separates – and all the while, a glamorous gaggle of the maison’s muses packed the FROW. Among them, British actor Jenna Coleman, who stood out as a vision in baby pink.

‘We went with a very, very different look for me for this show,’ says Coleman of her pink-and-white striped two-piece from Chanel’s Cruise 2024 collection. Paired with a pink chain belt, classic quilted handbag, white sunglasses and crystal-encrusted slingbacks, it’s a far cry from the more ‘gothic and rock-y’ looks the actor has gravitated towards for Chanel events in recent years, but it feels perfectly of the moment – capturing the ladylike Parisian chic aesthetic with a decidedly more youthful, playful touch.

‘I wanted to wear something really light and fun to match the summer mood,’ explains Coleman. ‘And actually, it was perfect for the show. Chanel is so good at evoking a certain mood and atmosphere, and completely transporting you. I felt like I was in some kind of really chic film watching all these amazing women taking a walk along the Seine, some with their dogs and others carrying baskets. It was incredible.’

Despite being a fashion world regular for the best part of a decade, Coleman never fails to be entranced by the spectacle of it all. ‘I think my first front row experience was at a Christopher Bailey show, and I just hadn’t anticipated the sense of theatre,’ she recalls. ‘You have the buzz and the excitement and the butterflies, all building to this moment. It’s like this little slice of theatre… And then within about eight minutes, it’s all over.’

Since bursting onto the scene as a young actor in the Aughts, Jenna Coleman admits to having gone through countless style phases over the years. ‘My personal style has changed a lot – I hope,’ she laughs. ‘I remember the period when it was all about the Sienna Miller vibe, with those huge metal waist belts and tiered skirts. I always wanted to channel that carefree, bohemian look but it really just did not suit me at all.’

Chanel is so good at evoking a certain mood and atmosphere

However, after ‘lots of trial and error’ – and years of experimenting with all manner of different looks – Coleman has finally come into her own, style-wise. ‘You get to know what fits your form and your body after a while. Tailoring is a big part of it too,’ she says. ‘It’s just a part of getting older. If I could give my younger self a piece of fashion advice now it would be to not listen to other people. You know what suits you and what you feel right in, and it’s important to just trust that.’

Right now, Coleman describes her look as ‘eclectic’. ‘I love the soft and feminine but I also love the clash of mixing that in with the masculine; when the two elements kind of fight each other,’ she explains. Indeed, the list of women she looks to for fashion inspiration is fittingly mixed. ‘I love the dark gothic romance of what Keira Knightley and Greta Bellamacina wear,’ says Coleman. ‘Sofia Coppola, for what she wears meets everything else she embodies… And Audrey Hepburn, but I like to be undone around the edges – so throw in Brigitte Bardot, Bianca Jagger vibes with Beatrice Dalle from Betty Blue.’

On a day-to-day basis, Coleman gravitates towards classic off-duty pieces: ‘I love black and white looks, great shirts, vintage tops and jeans… Easy pieces that always look great, mixed in with light floral dresses and some Comme des Garçons.’

‘I find myself interested in trends less and less, to be honest,’ Coleman tells us. The re-emergence of nostalgic Nineties and Noughties trends, for example, couldn’t be further from her mind. ‘The nods back to the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies are much more me,’ she says. ‘Those eras definitely suit me more.’

‘I’m also not buying as much,’ she continues. ‘I’m enjoying rediscovering my own wardrobe at the moment, pulling out pieces I already have and being like, “oh, that’s really cool actually” and wearing them again.’

My personal style has changed a lot – I hope

Coleman does, however, have a particular penchant for vintage fashion – ‘I have a lot of alerts set,’ she laughs – and she’s still on the hunt for the perfect blazer: ‘I’m looking for the right shape and cut, that will take me from day to night.’ Hollywood stars – they’re just like us.

When it comes to the (many) red carpets and glitzy events, Coleman finds herself being more experimental. ‘That’s the fun part!’ she exclaims. ‘There’s the hair and the make-up and the stylists, and everyone’s working together to create a certain look and vibe, in a way that you wouldn’t if it was just you on your own. It’s like playing a character, really, and being an extended, more heightened version of yourself.’

Having played everyone from Marie-Andrée Leclerc in The Serpent and detective Johanna Constantine in The Sandman to Queen Victoria in the past few years, Coleman admits that finding your way back to your own style can be a little tricky at times. ‘You’re in a character’s outfits for so long, I always find there’s a period when you finish the job and you’re a bit like, “oh, I get to be me again. Who am I? What do I actually like?”’

There have been times that Coleman’s character and real-life wardrobes have crossed over, however. ‘I mean I obviously wouldn’t want to start walking around in Queen Victoria’s dresses, even though the costumes were pretty amazing because we copied so much from the actual portraits,’ she laughs. ‘But my character in The Sandman had this really chic white trench that I kind of wish I’d stolen, and she had an incredible sunglasses collection too. I always try to take something from a job as a little reminder… I have this beautiful antique gold watch from The Room At The Top that I’m particularly fond of.’

As for Coleman’s latest project, a Gone Girl-style ‘twisted love story’ revenge drama called Wilderness in which she plays the protagonist Liv, she notes how cleverly her character’s story arc is reflected in the costume choices. ‘Liv doesn’t really know who she is,’ explains Coleman. ‘So at the beginning, her wardrobe is very understated, very safe, because she doesn’t want to sit in any camp too much or stand out. It was all very tentative, and she’d throw on socks knitted by her mum or a Fairisle cardigan or something. In the first episode, she wears this beautiful pink Emilia Wickstead dress, but even then you can see she’s just wearing what she thinks she should wear, but she’s not comfortable in it at all.’
“I always try to take something from a job as a little reminder…”

Without giving too much away – because we’ve had a preview and trust us, the show’s well worth a watch – Coleman’s character soon finds herself jealous of another woman (Cara, played by Ashley Benson), and decides to try her style on for size. ‘It’s typical, really. She copies her nails, borrows her clothes… Tries to be exactly like her, even though it doesn’t fit her character at all. She bounced around a lot.’

Much like Coleman herself, however, once Liv ‘discovered her own skin and found her voice’, a strong sense of personal style quickly followed suit. Thankfully Coleman never had to murder anyone to get there.