Singer and CHANEL Ambassador Charlotte Cardin On Optimism and Her Latest Album

“I want to go clubbing right now!” Charlotte Cardin exclaims. She’s recounting a conversation with a friend from earlier in the day, and continues, “I haven’t been to a club— like an actual club—since I was 16, but I just want to go and dance on the stereo even though I have never ever done that in my life.” The doe-eyed Montreal chanteuse is feeling a bit cooped up, as we all are, on account of a pandemic that’s taken ahold of the world for the past year. But she’s optimistic too. “Just knowing that I’ll be able to play shows soon is huge for me,” she says.

“Soon” is relative, but for Cardin, it’s the final step in releasing music that she’s held onto for over a year. Her new album, Phoenix, was written in the Before Times, but feels like a parable for our current reality. “I wrote about things that I was living at the moment, but when I relistened to the songs, I would imagine stories evolving with everything we were going through,” she says. In her song “Sun Goes Down (Buddy),” Cardin writes about the simple act of being there for a friend. “Listening to it now, I feel like it makes even more sense because people feel so lonely, isolated, and the concept of just being able to hold your friend in your arms is more powerful because it’s something that you’re not allowed to do,” she says.

For a rosy and glowing makeup look, prep the skin with Le Lift Lotion and Le Correcteur de CHANEL (Rose). Follow with Les Beiges Water-Fresh Tint and sculpt the cheeks with Fleurs de Printemps. Define the eyes with Stylo Ombre et Contour (#6 Nude Éclat) and finish with a satiny lip using Rouge Allure Laque.

Phoenix, a reference to new beginnings, features a bit of a break in Cardin’s minimalist sound, and is the result of close collaboration with her friend and manager, Jason Brando. The two co-wrote many of the songs, melding hip hop, pop, and even skate punk influences with her signature sultry lyrics. “The album really represents me and all the influences I’ve had throughout my life,” she says. “It’s still me, just a little bit riskier, and that’s exciting.

Earrings in 18K white gold with diamonds from the CHANEL Coco Crush Fine Jewellery Collection.

Of the “who” she is now, Cardin says she’s feeling liberated, if a little bit melancholy, and has leaned into living a smaller, quieter life, practising her neglected instruments and video chatting with family and friends (her boyfriend, French Canadian actor Aliocha Schneider, lives in Paris, where the two typically split their time). “I’ve really learned how to style a tracksuit,” she says, often accessorizing with lots of jewellery “just to feel a bit fancy” at home. “You can go from your kitchen to your bed to the clinic and it’s all going to be great…” she trails off, laughing.

Lion Médaille ring from CHANEL Sous le Signe du Lion Fine Jewellery collection.

Jokes aside, the laid-back luxurious aesthetic is something Cardin has always done exceptionally well, as evidenced by her relationship with Chanel, for whom she is a brand ambassador. “It’s about mixing and matching, [like a] hoodie and jeans with a Chanel boot,” she says. The Spring 2021 collection is a tribute to actresses and cool-girl muses of the house—from a shimmering tweed bomber paired with denim to a body-hugging jumpsuit worn with piles of gold bangles, to a blush wrap sweater paired here with sneakers—and one that suits Cardin perfectly. “I’m really proud to be associated with Chanel because I think it’s important to put forward the work behind an artwork, whether it’s a song, or a painting, or a dress, and I really recognize myself in that,” she says of the craftsmanship behind each piece. “And, you know, I love the fact that a badass woman is at the helm of the house right now.” When life resumes and Cardin does play that first show, she’ll likely be wearing one of Chanel’s sparkly odes to bold femininity designed by Virginie Viard, the house’s artistic director of fashion collections. “There’s something so special about performing live—that moment where you feel like the world is such a good place full of humans who have a bunch of beautiful things in common is just the best.”

Photography by William Arcand at l’Éloi
Styling by Amanda Lee Shirreffs at Teamm
Hair & Makeup by Julie Cusson for CHANEL Beauty
Fashion by CHANEL Spring/Summer 2021 Ready-To-Wear Collection
Jewellery by CHANEL Fine Jewellery Collections
Set Design by Roxanne Chagnon
Photo Assistants: Jean-Christophe Jacques & Xavier McDonald
Set Design Assistant: Jessica Michaud
Furniture by Cab Déco