Today captured one of those rare moments when one feels at peace with the world, that the pace to which we have become accustomed slows down and that we are allowed an instant to drink in the beauty of our surroundings. Virginie Viard allowed us this moment.
Given this, one could reflect on the colors in the bouquet delivered to the hotel – full of pink, off-white, pale green, and deep pink blossoms, opening full-faced towards the sun – and these gentle colors appeared in the CHANEL presentation today.
However, it is essential first to set the scene. Held at the Ettrier de Paris, in the Bois de Bologne where the guests wandered around freely, following a path through a forest punctuated with geometric sculptures. Not dissimilar to Viard’s S/S 2022 Haute Couture presentation, the artist Veilhan imagined a new installation taking shape as a symbolic landscape combining virtual and physical spaces. The teaser on the Chanel Instagram saw Chanel ambassador Charlotte Casiraghi, Sebastien Tellier, model Vivienne Rohner, and the artist Xavier Veilhan appear floating, singing, and dancing in a dreamlike world with a backdrop of vintage automobiles, monumental instruments, to geometric sharks. There were several recognizable elements from the previous show. Still, new was the video playing in the background of Pharrell Williams playing the drums to the soundtrack created by Sébastien Tellier.
“Nothing is more beautiful than freedom of the body,”
– Coco Chanel
It is a little flippant to say “all that aside,” but the collection stole the show! Virginie Viard has come into her own, presenting a pure Haute Couture collection of poetic beauty and, albeit, ‘refined classicism .’
There is a gradual metamorphosis of Viard’s aesthetic over her tenure at the House of Chanel. In her presentation, one could see her mirror several references from the early years at Chanel. The 20s, 30s, and 60s were the most inspirational, and Viard embraced these putting her dexterous hand on exquisite silhouettes that were at once the most covetable in their singular beauty.
The show opened with a pale green suit; the cropped jacket, worn nonchalantly and paired with a fluid button-through a-line skirt, set the precedence for this free and easy collection; the effortlessness of which infused the spirit of the presentation. Semblances of the ‘Art Deco’ period appeared in drop-waisted dresses with fluid pleats that added to the fluidity of the gown. In addition, the soporific flow of the cylindrical cuts of a long 20s-inspired column gown, was the stuff of film noir dreams. Or in contrast, take the perfectly tailored trouser suit in black, the jacket opened just to the waist, and secured with a handcrafted pearl accessory. At the same time, an exquisite white tulle dress came embroidered with a trail of cascading leaves. The attention to detail was endless.
Just to set a precedence, we are now on day three in Paris for Haute Couture, and perhaps one might be questioning the validity of Haute Couture based on a few presentations.
The definition of Haute couture is: the garments are constructed by hand in the fit, the material, sewing, and the extreme attention to detail. Very few ‘Houses’ seem to adhere to this, but today, Chanel, under Viard, is happily one of those.
It is vital to the brand’s signature heritage of understated elegance that the ateliers of textiles understand their craft, for their input is key to the brand’s future. But it is not just the materials; the patternmakers and the dressmakers’ wisdom of how a garment should be crafted makes an Haute Couture garment so extraordinary and effortless.
To borrow a Coco-ism: “Fashion passes; style remains. And it showed.