Creative connections that transform




Image of film still Dior advert Marion Cotillard Brixton Academy

O2 Brixton Academy in Dior advert

Date posted: 01.12.2010

Fashion house Dior has recently produced a series of high profile virals with its latest muse, Oscar®-winning French actress Marion Cotillard (Inception). The virals, directed by the likes of Guy Ritchie and David Lynch, have followed Cotillard's transformation from 'Lady Noire' in Paris; 'Lady Rouge' in New York; 'Lady Blue' in Shanghai to 'Lady Grey' in the final film, set and shot in London.

Lady Grey
, the last installment of the 'Lady Dior' handbag campaign, is produced by Independent Films and directed by John Cameron Mitchell (director of the upcoming Rabbit Hole). In the film, Cotillard plays an enchanting burlesque performer who seduces the characters played by Sir Ian McKellen (The Lord of the Rings) and Russell Tovey (The History Boys).

Location Manager, Eugene Strange at Salt Films, was tasked with finding a cabaret club that felt intimate and stylish but was also faded and full of character. Crucially, there is a key sequence in the film that takes place on a double staircase, so it was initially hoped that this could be found all in one venue.  

As Strange explained: "We searched all number of gentleman's clubs - but once the director had seen photos of the Rivoli Ballroom, he immediately fell in love with the space and its sensuous red interior. If only it had a staircase." With the interior locked down the focus turned to finding a staircase that could match this interior - anything too grand or stately was ruled out.

For Strange, the pressure was on: "As the shoot loomed I was flicking through a book about hidden London and stumbled across a photo of a double staircase that was in an art deco foyer in Brixton. I couldn't believe that this was the same staircase I had walked up many times on visits to the Brixton Academy. I called Liz Large at the Academy and was surprised that not only were there no bands scheduled to shoot on the Saturday we wanted but, more importantly, that the staircase was still there". 

Originally known as the Astoria Brixton, this grade II listed Art Deco theatre was designed in 1929 by Edward A. Stone and formed part of the Astoria Group of variety theatres. Its stunning Art Deco entrance hall, foyer and double-staircase lead to a large auditorium (15,000 sq. ft) which was built to resemble a Renaissance garden: plaster urns and statuary included. The stage has a proscenium arch based on Venice's famous Rialto Bridge flanked by Italianate buildings.

With a capacity of nearly 5,000, the building also boasts nine dressing rooms. Whilst best known as a venue for live music events, the O2 Brixton Academy is open for hire as a concert hall; for conferences, as well as film and television broadcasting and rehearsal space. The Academy has hosted numerous shoots including Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs and video clips of Iron Maiden and Placebo, amongst other artists.

For Strange the search for the Dior Campaign was over: "The moment I arrived for a recce, I knew that it was a winner. The fact that it has had so many people walk up and down it over the years only added to the style and meant that it was in keeping with the Rivoli. Liz Large was also prepared to let us create our 'action painting' so the deal was done." From the production's perspective, the Academy proved "a fantastically contained location" and the staff were "extremely helpful".

For filming enquiries at the O2 Brixton Academy contact Liz Large on 020 7787 3138 or email

For filming Enquiries at the Rivoli Ballroom contact Bill Mannix on 020 8692 5130.

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