BICHE FEST A photo of Karl, Coco’s horse and Chabrol’s Nouvelle Vague film, Les Biches made up Virginie Viard’s Fall collection for Chanel.
Virginie Viard loves Chanel. In fact, in show notes given out pre-show this time quoted the artistic director saying, “I love CHANEL so much, this collection could only be a new ode.” But while many may play out as odes, it is clear that Viard very much has her own take on the meaning and new direction of Chanel.
In the vein of the odes, she cited Coco’s racehorse Romantica. Viard offered jockey-inspired silk blouses and more obviously, jackets and a few velvet jockey hats to settle that score. But she also looked at a photo of her mentor Karl Lagerfeld wearing a pair of riding boots and a striped shirt; the latter influenced a pinstriped look with pirate’s duster coat while the former which became singular footwear statement in the show; a black boot with contrasting brown cuff a la “Seven Leagues” boots which gave the girls a swashbuckler swagger.
Which leads to her third reference that read the loudest. The designer referenced Nouvelle Vague film by Claude Chabrol, Les Biches which is a play on the German slang word for lesbian. The film centers on a bougie Parisienne who seduces a young bohemian sprite who in turn falls for her seducer’s male love interest. With a paired down set with mirror runway and white black trimmed Chanel Box seating pumping smoke onto the runway, the models often walked in two’s and three’s having conversations and in outfits not necessarily merchandised together giving each girl a unique outlook.
The groupings and chatter signaled a looser, more relaxed vibe at Viard’s Chanel. Ease denotes a younger Chanel lady but the baggy sweatpant-styles may take some convincing. On the other hand, may we dare say it, it was a bit sexy too. Skirts with hi-cut slits in everything from house tweed to black embroidered fringe revealed sheer polka dot hosiery. A new (or revived?) gold snap treatment opened up sleeves and more so pants legs to bare more leg. Midriff baring tops a la the 90s from a grey tweed bra top worn with a long grey skirt; a vest-style cotton shirt or fitted long-bra styles in short shorts as seen on Gigi in black flanked by pals in white, each wearing floor-length dusters.
Dresses were intentionally scarce but when they did appear on the mainly black and white runway (save pops of pink and pale green) they generally featured leg of mutton sleeves which shown strapless (another silhouette that showed up from time to time) on Kaia Gerber in a taffeta dress was divine.
Throughout was the jeweled Byzantine cross that is a staple in Chanel house codes appearing in multi-color stones or pearls on cuffs, belts, and necklaces. But perhaps most curious was when it showed up embroidered embellishing the entire front of a black simple knit top. It recalled Anna Wintour’s first American Vogue cover in 1988 showing model Michaela Bercu wearing acid wash jeans and a similar style top that was actually a Christian Lacroix Couture piece, effectively nodding an ode to the work of the editor and the designer. And why not?