Before the world was shaken by the pandemic, the Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore team ran all over Paris with celebrated French dancer, Fanny Sage. We climbed high up into the Montmartre hills in search of the iconic Parisian rooftops that inspired the cinematic set of Chanel’s Spring Summer 2020 show. Come with us as we revisit the City of Light in spirit through Dancer of the Roof, a fashion film created for Chanel paying homage to the Nouvelle Vague (or New Wave) of the ’50s and ’60s.
Fanny also shares with us why dance is important to her, what inspired her for this short film as well as tips on how to survive and thrive during this difficult period.
You are a woman of many talents — dancer, choreographer, actor and model. How do you find time to do so much?
My first love is dance and all the other work I do revolves around it. People are attracted to what I do because of my dance, so they ask me to be part of a wide variety of projects; I’m not consciously seeking out opportunities to do all that. I’m also not trying to make it as a supermodel—I don’t have the body or the looks for it! I’m merely being myself and using what I have to collaborate and create.
You wanted to be a dancer since young. What is it about dance that you love?
When I was in school, my teacher asked me what I wanted to do in the future, and I said I wanted to be a dancer. It was an obvious choice. I knew it would be a hard life, but I felt it in my skin, in my blood. I started dancing when I was three years old, and I never had a doubt that this was what I was meant to do. I may question many things, including myself, but the one thing I always knew was that I want to dance.
One of my favourite moments in life is when I’m on stage. That’s when I stop thinking about myself, what I am and what I represent—I feel powerful and empowered.
In this film you play a mysterious Parisian girl living in her own world, who is one day inspired by a wayward red balloon to climb to the rooftops of Paris. Are there some similarities between our heroine and the real Fanny Sage?
The girl in the film is very independent. She runs all over Paris doing what she wants, and I can really relate to this. I’ve been on my own since I was 17, when I went to Lyon to study at the Conservatoire National Supérieur Musique, and when I moved to Paris to start my career. I’ve always done everything myself. I don’t depend on others for my own happiness or work. At the same time, this film also highlights that someone is thinking about the woman and of her pining for someone. At the end of the day, I love my freedom, but as the years go by I also want to share it with someone special.
How did the Chanel SS20 collection inspire your choreography in this film?
The collection inspired me so much! It’s so elegant and the clothes are so fluid that your body feels free and moves so gracefully in them. I love to dance, but it’s not just dance that inspires me. It can also be film, photography, and clothes. I love fashion because there are so many elements that can add to the way your body moves. And I have always loved Chanel—it’s classic and feminine yet so modern at the same time.
We shot in many iconic places in Paris, not all of them easy to dance in! What was the part you enjoyed the most and what did you find challenging?
I loved dancing on the stairs! It was very difficult because they were not level, so I couldn’t run or jump properly, but they gave me so many possibilities to play with. My favourite moment was shooting on the rooftop. During the time of the shoot, the weather was cloudy all the time but as soon as we got up on the roof, the sun came out. It felt like the elements wanted us to create this. I actually started to cry because I was caught in the emotion at the moment. And the dress was so beautiful. It’s one of the most memorable projects I’ve done.
France has been in lockdown for many weeks now, and Singapore has recently eased up on its circuit breaker. What have you been up to during this period of time and what advice do you have for Singaporeans?
I’ve been keeping to my routine and training everyday. I’m also taking the opportunity to learn Japanese! Other than that, I make sure that I take time to call up the people I love. One thing I miss the most is seeing my family and friends.
We may be inconvenienced now, but you will live life again. However, it would be terrible if you or your loved ones fell sick during the pandemic. So take this time to take care of yourself and the people around you.
In astrology, it is believed that the elements do everything to put people in a good direction. You now have time to do the things to put yourself a good direction. Take time to think about what you would like to achieve but don’t waste the opportunity thinking about how bad the current situation is.
Creative Director: Jiawa Liu
Videographer: Louis Villers
Fashion Editor: Windy Aulia
Starring: Fanny Sage
Makeup Artist: Isis Moënne-Loccoz
Hair Stylist: Sonia Messaoudi
Production Assistants: Jinjiibadam Gankhuu, Anouchka Gauthier
Fashion Assistants: Calie Mailhol, Aida Brodie
Extra: Thomaz Tavares
Extra styling: Merguiller Paris by Tania Claire